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Separation of Powers - Essay Example

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Separation of Powers

Montesquieu echoes Aristotle's arguments that having the mixture of the traditional governing bodies would balance the power and authority. Further more, he references Aristotle in his book by saying; "The inhabitants of a particular town are much better acquainted with its wants and interests than with those of other places; and are better judges of the capacity of their neighbors than of that of the rest of their countrymen. The members, therefore, of the legislature should not be chosen from the general body of the nation; but it is proper that in every considerable place a representative should be elected by the inhabitants" (Montesquieu).
Aristotle, Montesquieu, and Locke all support the notion that civil society originates when, for the better administration of the law, men agree to delegate legal functions to certain officers. They are all against a "monarchy" government as it does not support a civil society. It by definition corrupts the individual who is given all of the power. Both Aristotle and Montesquieu allow for a balance between the oligarchy/monarchy and the democracy by allowing an "executive" element who's function is to balance that of the legislative/democratic element.
2) Aristotle believed that there were three classes. At the bottom were the farmers, laborers, and poor. As this class of people did not have the leisure time to pursue education, they would make a meager ruling class. The ruling class Aristotle argued should be comprised of the leisured classes, and the "middling element". He clarifies that the governing body with a larger "middling" element is more stable as they relate best to both of the extreme elements and are less concerned with power so as not to become corrupt. This combination of the "leisure class" and the "middling element" Aristotle referred to as citizens;
"Citizens are distinguished from other inhabitants, such as resident aliens and slaves; and even children and seniors are not unqualified citizens (nor are most ordinary workers). After further analysis he defines the citizen as a person who has the right to participate in deliberative or judicial office" (SEP)
Montesquieu viewed class as an outcome of the ability of the legislative body. He acknowledges that people are born into different circumstances, but argues that "the laws should disguise as much as possible the difference between the nobility and the people, so that the people feel their lack of power as little as possible" (SEP). In other words, the nobility who are likely the majority of those elected to be in the governing body should exercise care in order to not alienate those subjected to their rulings. When they fail to do so, the nobility will lose its spirit of moderation, and the government will be corrupted.

3) Montesquieu believed that "it is the masterpiece of legislation to know where to place properly the judicial power" (SL) According to Vile, Montesquieu was not the first philosopher to separate the judicial from the legislative but rather his writing was published at a time which ...Show more

Summary

1) Aristotle's Politics is one of the most influential and enduring texts of political philosophy in all of history. Aristotle argued that the best attainable regime is a polity, the regime which "is neither democracy nor oligarchy, but the one midway between them." In mixing oligarchy and democracy, Aristotle believes that one can avoid the negative effects of either regime in its pure form while preserving the positive aspects of those regimes "democracy exists when the free and poor, being a majority, have authority to rule; oligarchy, when the wealthy and better born have authority and are few." For example, regarding offices one would have elections (an oligarchic element) but no propert…
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