Les imaginaires de la loi. Le destin du legislateur dans la pensee politique et economique francaise apres Rousseau
Doctor of Philosophy
The subject of the investigation is the controversial figure of the legislator. The dissertation concerns two defining directions of political modernity: the project of autonomy and the emergence of economic freedom; and identifies the effects of their collision on the philosophical destiny of one of the most interesting figures of Western culture: the legislator. Profoundly influenced by the Greek political imagery, Rousseau's oeuvre represents one of the most interesting modern interpretations of the ancient model of political autonomy. Even if Rousseau identifies the community as the alpha and omega of the law-making process, he still postulates the existence of an exceptional mind (the legislator) capable of both molding the social consciousness and correcting the excess of the collective hubris. An advocate of political autonomy expressed through political will and decision, the French thinker and his social model will encounter a fierce opposition from the economists gathered under the banner of economic liberalism (laissez-faire ideology). Believing in a "natural/providential order" which reveals itself through the natural laws of economy, the social philosophers of the economic school criticized Rousseau's social design and proposed a fresh perspective in which the legislator's prestige and authority would significantly diminish. From Rousseau to Molinari through the physiocrates (Quesnay, Baudeau, Lemercier de la Riviere), the Jacobins and the economists of the nineteenth century (Dunoyer, Bastiat, Molinari) this thesis seeks to map the legislator's rise and decline in eighteenth and nineteenth century France.
Law; Philosophy; European history; Economics; Political science