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Title: Limits of Sovereignty in Leibniz' Political Philosophy
Author(s): BASHKINA, Olga
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 26    Issue: 2   Date: 2019   
Pages: 183-200
DOI: 10.2143/EP.26.2.3286747

Abstract :
Contemporary theories of sovereignty often focus on how the idea of sovereignty, as supreme and absolute power, can be made compatible with the limitations and restrictions introduced by the principles of federalism and separation of powers. In this article, I turn to Leibniz, an overly neglected figure in the history of political thought, and his political writings in order to demonstrate that he developed an original account of both forms of the limitation of sovereignty in the Early Modern period. In order to do so, I discuss the division of sovereignty between princes and the Holy Roman Emperor that constitutes a federal argument in Leibniz’ theory, and the operation of the system of independent tribunals limiting sovereignty that forms the argument for the separation of powers. By compiling these two aspects of Leibniz’ thought that have not been previously discussed together, I aim to demonstrate that Leibniz created a theory of the limitation of sovereignty that appears to be one of the important sources of some central topics in contemporary political thought and that he should be studied on an equal footing with other classics of Early Modern political thought.

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