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By Margaret Canovan

This examine of latest highbrow attitudes in the direction of nationalism indicates how present discourses of democracy, social justice and liberalism take without any consideration the lifestyles of gains of the kingdom kingdom which those discourses themselves don't recognize explicitly.

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Either way, does the legitimate authority of the state not morally bind me to carry out its sentences? As for the abb´e Maury’s view that, though I carry out the law, I am abhorrent because I have chosen to do so, it is a deeply confused position. True, the law does not prohibit all immoral behavior, so claiming an action is legal is not enough to show that it is moral. Those disreputable actresses in the Palais-Royal deserve their reputation. But the profession of executioner is not simply permitted by law; the law requires of the government that the tasks of the executioner be performed.

Mercier: Have you not desired those disreputable actresses, Monsieur de Paris? 43 “Out of a hundred malefactors condemned to the galleys, thirty at least owe their lives and exemption from execution to the humanity of magistrates. Such magistrates date from our own day; and without fear of prevarication they know how to lessen the cruelty of the law. To spare the guilty man a violent death, to restore the proportion between punishment and crime, to weigh circumstances which may diminish punishment, this is what their humanity and wisdom may now effect.

You would not describe what a surgeon does as stabbing, what a lawyer does as robbing, or what a prosecutor does as kidnapping, would you? Mercier: No, not when acting as proper surgeons, lawyers, or prosecutors. But they are capable of failing to act properly, and then they may become villains. I don’t doubt that when you act as a proper executioner what you do is described as execution. But you are also capable of employing your expertise and the trappings of your office to murder, just as a surgeon is capable of murder.

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