The period of French revolutionary turmoil known as the Terror is often
blamed on ideological rigidity, popular anger, or civil dissensions. In this
discussion of his new book, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult
of Nature, and the French Revolution (Chicago, 2009), Dan Edelstein points
instead to the role played by liberal theories of natural law, and asks what
this example teaches us about legislating the exceptional in troubled times.