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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although David Hume never produced a single comprehensive work that encapsulated his views on politics, his various writings address a broad range of topics of relevance to political philosophy. He critiques the social contract theory of Hobbes and Locke, and he offers an alternative, evolutionary account of the origins of government. Hume sees all governments as the result of a struggle between authority and liberty, with the best of them achieving a balance between the two by implementing systems of “general laws.” Hume’s cautious approach to social change may fairly be called conservative. However, he is willing to endorse efforts at gradual reform when these efforts do not threaten the stability of the society. His legacy for modern political philosophy remains contested.

Keywords: Law, political theory, social contract, conservatism, liberalism, government, reform

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