The Climate of the philosophes during the Enlightenment The article offers a new approach to the study of the “theory of climates,” by distinguishing between a standard model and a critical model with an environmental dimension. The standard model understands the transfer of physical attributes in geographical spaces to moral attributes in human beings in a pejorative way, as a form of determinism based on the notion of causality. The article argues that a different model can be derived directly from the foundational texts of Enlightenment climate theorists such as Montesquieu. By exploring Montesquieu’s debates with other thinkers (Hume, Voltaire), the author shows that Montesquieu’s climate theory should be understood as a “transactional environmentalism” based on a notion of correlation or connection and deeply tied to a larger theory of method and history, rather than as a form of determinism based on a narrow notion of causality.


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pp. 953-985
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