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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 12 April 2024

p. 24814. Humelocked

p. 24814. Humelocked

  • Paul Kelly


This chapter examines David Hume's political thought and philosophy. Hume is regarded as a major influence on the development of conservative ideology and a significant precursor of utilitarianism. He is known as both a sceptical philosopher and a common-sense moralist and political theorist. In drawing sceptical conclusions from the prevailing empiricist theory of knowledge associated with John Locke, Hume is concerned to point out the limits of reason. In place of reason he offers an account of morality ‘naturalized’, that is rooted in the passions. After providing a short biography of Hume, the chapter analyses his views on experience and knowledge, facts and values, moral judgement, natural and artificial virtues, justice and conventions, property, government, and consent. It concludes with an assessment of Hume's legacy as a political thinker and philosopher.

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