David Hume Political Theory
David Hume: Background • Born April 26th 1711 • Died August 25th 1776 • Scottish philosopher, historian and economist • Father died when he was 2, so his eldest brother raised him • Studied law for 3 years • Hume’s family thought he would be well suited in a law career, but David preferred reading classical authors • Hume attended the Jesuit college in France where Descartes also studied
Who influenced David Hume? • John Locke • George Berkeley • Isaac Newton • Samuel Clarke Who David Hume influenced: -Immanuel Kant -William James -Adam Smith
Positive Law • Laws that are enacted and adopted by the government • Used to describe man-made laws which allow specific privileges upon, or remove them from, an individual or group • David Hume is a Positive Law supporter • Hume’s thoughts contained elements that could be conservative and liberal • He is less concerned about the form of government that administers these laws, as long as it does so fairly
To Hume, a perfect government would have elections on an annual basis and representatives were to be unpaid • Hume also believed in unequal distribution of property. Perfect equality would lead to impoverishment
4 Characteristics of Hume’s law 1. They apply to everyone. Public officials have no immunity from punishment. You did the crime, you do the time! 2. Rigid in their execution. Laws must be inflexible. No “getting off easy”. In this case everyone will be equal in punishment for each run in with the law.
Continued … 3. Must be clear in their application. They should be written with clarity to leave judges with little as possible to determine if this law applies or does not apply to any given case or how they should interpret it. 4.Laws will be made known to the public. There should be no such thing as “secret laws”.
Relating to current law David Hume would agree with the law of you are innocent until proven guilty, everyone has a right to a fair trial. Laws apply to all people including police, judges, political leaders and those who work for the government.