Terror Laws: Lessons from the French Revolution

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.