Hume's Conventionalism

Hume's Conventionalism : Utility and Sociability

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David Hume's political philosophy is heavily influenced by various philosophers, especially Thomas Hobbes and Francis Hutcherson. Because of this, we tend to see him as either a conventionalist contractarian, or an empiricist of the Scottish Enlightenment. However, Chen asserts the claim that both perspectives, when employed individually in analysis, are inadequate in contemporary Hume studies. Especially in the aspect of modern utilitarianism, many nuances are overlooked in considering Hume as either one thing or the other. This results in an imbalanced interpretation of his political philosophy and therefore, a limited analysis of his thought. This book thus focuses on revisiting Hume's political philosophy through traditional utilitarianism. Chen criticizes the contemporary approaches of marginalizing utilitarianism in interpreting Hume. Instead, he argues that we should understand Hume in the context of conventionalism in order to fully grasp his thought.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 1138999512
  • 9781138999510

Table of contents

1. Introduction 2. Sympathy and Utility: A comparison between Treatise and EPM 3. Anatomy of Human Nature 4. Descriptive Naturalism and Utility 5. Hume's Non-Instrumental Public Utility 6. Hobbesian or Lockean? Reconsidering Hume's Theory of Property 7. Conservative Utilitarianism and Hume's Political Philosophy 8. Conclusion: Conservative Utilitarianism from Hume to Burke
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Author information

Brian Chen is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at National Chenchi University, Taiwan.
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