A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's "Spirit of Laws"

Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de
(1754-1836)
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Editor/Trans.
Thomas Jefferson, trans.
First Pub. Date
1811
Publisher/Edition
Philadelphia: William Duane
Pub. Date
1811
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Book XXVI

Of Laws in Relation to the Nature of Things upon which They Decide.

XXVI.1

Under a title sufficiently enigmatical, all this book is reduced to a single point; that we should not decide on a question by the same motives which induced the determination of another question of quite a different nature. This is too evident for any one to attempt to deny it. I shall not occupy myself therewith, inasmuch as all decisions on numerous objects, which are made upon the authority of precedents or examples, are in fact prejudgments; or judgments given upon evidence that has nothing to do with the subject: at least this is my manner of seeing things, conformable to the principles already established, in treating of the different articles to which these objects relate. If I were to discuss them again, it would be a useless repetition; and when principles are established, it is not necessary to examine one after another every particular case. Having therefore no new instruction to draw from this book, I shall pass to another.

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