Rousseau And The Death Penalty

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Rousseau and the Death Penalty

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born in 1712, was a philosopher who studied music. During his lifetime he wrote a multitude of books, one particular piece of writing being The Social Contract and The First and Second Discourses, which we read and discussed in class. In this book we got to take a look at some of Rousseau’s famous political writings. In his writings, Rousseau addresses many controversial topics about society, which caused him to make enemies and he eventually had to flee. One topic in particular that Rousseau discussed was in his book The Social Contract where he wrote about the idea of the death penalty and how he supports it. The death penalty is controversial and should not be allowed due to the fact that our government is killing a person who was convicted for doing a similar crime. The Social Contract was written in 1762 and addresses the legitimacy of political authority. One specific topic that Rousseau writes about to discuss political authority is the power of the sovereign in book II of The Social Contract. Rousseau describes the sovereign as the law or authority. In The Social Contract, Rousseau describes the sovereign as the voice of all the citizens and the sovereign cannot be disobeyed or divided. Rousseau goes on to talk more about the sovereign and how it runs, but the most interesting topic that he discussed is in Chapter 5 entitled “The Right Of Life And Death.” In Chapter 5, Rousseau discusses the right of
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