Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

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

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.