[‘Four Moral and Political Essays’]
The sixth volume of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse is devoted to ‘The Politics of Philosophers’. Alongside reprints of texts on politics by Descartes and Machiavelli are four essays by David Hume on the theory of authority, accompanied by Bernard Pautrat ’s article ‘La Théorie humienne de l’autorité’ [‘Hume’s theory of authority’] (CpA 6.5 ). Pautrat’s article gives the rationale for the selection of these essays, all of which are taken from Hume’s Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. The French texts are reprinted from the 1788 edition of Oeuvres philosophiques de M. D. Hume. with some of the texts incorrectly dated. 11. ‘Des premiers principes du gouvernment’ [‘Of the First Principles of Government’]
First published in Hume’s Essays Moral and Political. in 1741. Reprinted in Essays Moral, Political and Literary , ed. Eugene F. Miller. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987. Part 1, Essay 4. Online at http://www.constitution.org/dh/pringovt.htm.
Hume observes the apparent paradox characteristic of human societies whereby, while ‘force is always on the side of the governed’, rulers still manage to ensure the submission of the people. He suggests the need for an inquiry into the source of the ‘implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers’ (CpA 6.6:75 ; Essays. 32).
Those who govern, Hume argues, ‘have nothing to support them but opinion’, of which there are three kinds. First, there is ‘opinion of interest’, which concerns the ‘general advantage which is reaped from government’. Then there is ‘opinion of right’, which is of two kinds: ‘right to power’ and ‘right to property’. Opinion about right to power is instanced in ‘the attachment which all nations have to their ancient government, and even to those names, which have had the sanction of antiquity’ (76 /33). Opinions about right to property are also fundamental to the maintenance of government, but Hume criticises the claim that property is ‘the foundation of all government’ because it excludes the influence of ‘right to power’ (76 /34). 2 All governments are founded upon these three kinds of opinion, and thereby ‘all authority of the few over the many’. There are other ‘principles’ that add force or ‘determine, limit, or alter their operation’, eg. self-interest, fear and affection. But these principles are dependent on the influence of opinion, and are therefore secondary.
The expectation of advantage from the government presupposes that its authority is already established in this manner. Fear of tyranny presupposes the authority of the tyrant, ‘since, as a single man, his bodily force can reach but a small way, and all the farther power he possesses must be founded either on our own opinion, or on the presumed opinion of others’ (76 /34).
Governments may endure without the ‘balance of power’ coinciding with the ‘balance of property’. This occurs when some ‘rank or order’ of the state institution ‘has acquired a large share in the property; but from the original constitution of the government, has no share of the power’ (77 /35). Hume considers the validity of authority in instances of the usurpation of property. In a country like England, he argues, where ‘the original constitution’ allocates a large share of the property to a few people, authority is consolidated by bringing ‘the balance of power to coincide with that of property’ (77 /35). If the British government were organised on the model of the Dutch republic, where governmental deputies are ‘obliged to receive instructions from their constituents’, the nobility would disappear and the balance of power would be radically modified.
I must, therefore, be of the opinion, that an alteration in this particular would introduce a total alteration in our government, and would soon reduce it to a pure republic. For though the people, collected in a body like the ROMAN tribes, be quite unfit for government, yet when dispersed in small bodies, they are more susceptible both of reason and order; the force of popular currents and tides is, in a great measure, broken; and the public interest may be pursued with some method and constancy (77 /36).
In his conservative conclusion, Hume thus ends by counselling against ‘encouraging a passion for such dangerous novelties’.2. ‘De l’origine du gouvernement’ [‘Of the Origin of Government’]
First published posthumously in Essays Moral, Political and Literary (1777). Reprinted in the revised 1987 edition of Essays Moral, Political and Literary. Part 1, Essay 5. Online at http://www.constitution.org/dh/origgovt.htm.
In the Treatise on Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Hume had contended that human beings are naturally social animals, existing in families. 3 Man ‘is compelled to maintain society from necessity, from natural inclination, and from habit’. What, then, are the origins of government? In advanced human societies, man establishes ‘political society, in order to administer justice’ (CpA 6.6.79 ; Essays. 37). The ‘object’ or ‘purpose’ of government is ‘the distribution of justice’. Institutions such as royalty, government, the military and the clergy, ‘so far as regards this world’, have ‘no other useful object’.
Hume says that the main reason people do not always follow justice is because of the ‘perverseness of nature’. They are seduced from important, yet distant interests by the allure of present, often frivolous temptations. ‘Men must, therefore, endeavour to palliate what they cannot cure’. An institution of justice must be established with the aim of punishment of transgression and correction of fraud and violence, ‘to oblige men, however reluctant, to consult their own real and permanent interests. In a word obedience is a new duty which must be invented to support that of justice ; and the tyes of equity must be corroborated by those of allegiance’ (79 /38).
Duty to government is founded in ‘the principles of human nature’. There is an ‘immediate and visible interest’ in obeying the law. The individuals who have key roles in governmental institutions gain their positions from the ‘consent, tacit or express, of the people’. The prince or leader must have the qualities of ‘valour, force, integrity or prudence’ as these ‘command respect and confidence’. Once authority is matched by obedience, a stable society ensues. ‘Habit soon consolidates what other principles of human nature had imperfectly founded; and men, once accustomed to obedience, never think of departing from that path, in which they and their ancestors have constantly trod’ (39 /39). Hume distinguishes between the imperfect origins of institutions and their nature or function insofar as they are governed in the light of the principles of human nature. ‘It is probable, that the first ascendant of one man over multitudes begun during a state of war’. Further progress had to wait until the institutions had established ‘revenues’, which enabled the bestowing of reward and punishment.
‘In all governments, there is a perpetual intestine struggle, open or secret, between authority and liberty ’ (81 /40). Every sovereign authority is limited by the interests of the people. The government that can be described as ‘free’ ‘admits of a partition of power among several members, whose united authority is no less, or is commonly greater than that of any monarch; but who, in the usual course of administration, must act by general and equal laws, that are previously known to all the members and to all their subjects’. Although liberty is the ‘perfection of civil society’, it is authority first and foremost that is ‘essential to the existence of civil society’ (81 /41).3. ‘Du Contrat primitif’ [‘Of the Original Contract’]
First published in Three Essays, Moral and Political (1748), along with ‘Of National Characters’, and ‘Passive Obedience’, and incorporated in the same year into the third edition of Hume’s Essays, Moral and Political (1748). In Essays Moral, Political and Literary. Part 2, Essay 12. Online at http://www.constitution.org/dh/origcont.htm.
There are currently two types of ‘philosophical’ systems in British politics, Hume claims, one that grounds authority in divine right, and the other in the social contract. The former position is represented by the ‘Tories’, the latter by the ‘Whigs’. For Hume these ‘systems’ can only be called ‘philosophical’ in a restricted sense; he suggests that there may be a contradiction in the very idea of a philosopher embracing a perspective which is effectively the same as one proposed by a political party (85 /469). In the sense developed by Pautrat in his Althusserian analysis of Hume’s text, then, these ‘philosophical’ systems are really ideological. These ‘philosophies’, Hume remarks, are of ‘unshapely’ workmanship, showing signs of ‘violence’ and ‘hurry’.
The one party, by tracing up government to the Deity. endeavoured to render it so sacred and inviolate, that it must be little less than sacrilege, however tyrannical it may become, to touch or invade it, in the smallest article. The other party, by founding government altogether on the consent of the People. suppose that there is a kind of original contract. by which the subjects have tacitly reserved the power of resisting their sovereign, whenever they find themselves aggrieved by that authority, with which they have, for certain purposes, voluntarily entrusted him (83 /466).
Hume criticises both views. According to Pautrat, Hume treats the opposition as an ‘antinomy’ (CpA 6.5:70 ), although Hume does not use the term:
I shall venture to affirm, [1.] That both these systems of speculative principles are just; though not in the sense, intended by the parties ; And [2.] That both the schemes of practical consequences are prudent; though not in the extremes, to which each party, in opposition to the other, has commonly endeavoured to carry them (CpA 6.6:83 /466).
The grounding of government in Deity is just if one believes that the universe is governed by providence. A benevolent God cares for the good of all creatures, and government prevents anarchy; government must be part of God’s intention for the world. The problem is that the sovereign nevertheless cannot be said to be the ‘vice-regent’ of God ‘in any other sense than [that] every power or force, being derived from him, may be said to act by his commission’. If we assume a divine i.e. omnipotent authority, ‘whatever actually happens is comprehended in the general plan or intention of providence’, and is therefore not imputable to the sovereign. So ‘the greatest and most lawful prince’ has no more reason ‘to plead a peculiar sacredness or inviolable authority, than an inferior magistrate, or even an usurper, or even a robber and a pyrate’ (84 /467). There is no more logic in the idea that divine authority is actually invested in a wiser ruler like Titus Flavius than in a tyrannical one like Cesare Borgia.
Hence the attractions of the alternative philosophy, that of the social contract. Those who defend this alternative (such as John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government ) claim that an act of consent lies at the origin of government. ‘Nothing but the [people’s] own consent could, at first, associate them together, and subject them to any authority’ (84 /468). They insist that ‘all men are still born equal, and owe allegiance to no prince or government, unless bound by the obligation and sanction of a promise ’ (85 /469). The subject promises to abide by the rules in return for the sovereign’s protection and distribution of justice; and if the sovereign does not provide the latter, the subject is freed from allegiance.
Against this view, Hume argues that ‘these reasoners should look abroad into the world, where they would meet with nothing that, in the least, corresponds to their ideas, or can warrant so refined and philosophical a system’ (85 /469). Cross-cultural comparison shows the universal prevalence of princes who assert their right to rule by appeals to conquest or succession. There are no ‘traces or memory’ (85 /470) of any original contract. Hume contends the consent of actual subjects was only achieved at the end of a long historical process of domination by chieftains who ruled through ongoing, particular acts of persuasion, which eventually, through habitual reinforcement, brought about a state of acquiescence in the subjugated (85 /469). ‘Almost all the governments, which exist at present, or of which there remains any record in story, have been founded originally, either on usurpation nor conquest, or both, without any pretence of a fair consent, or voluntary subjection of the people’ (86 /471). Hume gives the example of the republic of Athens, where participation in democracy was restricted in a number of respects (for instance, the exclusion of women, slaves and strangers) (87 /473).
An ‘original contract’, or government by ‘popular consent’ is thus a ‘perfection’ of government, not an essential condition (88 /474). The presumption that a free, rational choice has actually taken place is mistaken. ‘Were all men possessed of so perfect an understanding, as always to know their own interests, no form of government had ever been submitted to, but what was established on consent, and was fully canvassed by every member of the society: But this state of perfection is likewise much superior to human nature’. Subjects clearly have less freedom, in the sense of independence, than the sovereign. The only ‘tacit consent’ that exists applies to a situation in which a foreigner voluntarily settles in a country and is acquainted beforehand with its ruler. The event of a dissolution of government, a moment of revolution, moreover, is one during which ‘people’s consent’ is ‘least regarded’, since the outcome is decided by ‘military force or political craft’ (88 /474).
What then is the reason for the obedience of the people? ‘I readily answer, because society could not otherwise subsist ’ (92 /481). The theory of the original contract says it is due to a promise or a word, but rather ‘the general obligation, which binds us to government, is the interest and necessities of society’. The particular form of government is contingent, and opinion remains the only standard by which to judge the merit of a government.
Hume observes that the only passage he has found in classical literature in which obedience to a government is ascribed to a promise is in Plato’s depiction of Socrates’ refusal to escape from prison in the Crito (50c). In doing so, Socrates ironically ‘builds a tory consequence of passive obedience, on a whig foundation of the original contract’ (96 /487). Once again, Hume ends on a conservative, cautionary note: ‘new discoveries are not to be expected in these matters’.4. ‘De l’obéissance passive’ [‘Of Passive Obedience’]
Written around 1745. First published in Three Essays, Moral and Political (1748), also containing ‘Of the Original Contract’. Essays Moral, Political and Literary. Part 2, Essay 13. Online at http://www.econlib.org/library/LFBooks/Hume/hmMPL36.html.
According to Eugene Miller in his edition of the Essays. passive obedience refers to ‘the doctrine that it is not lawful, under any pretense whatsoever, to take arms against the king or those who act under the king’s authority. This doctrine was held, in the seventeenth century, by the court party, and in the eighteenth century by a segment of the Tory party’. 4 In his chapter ‘On the Measures of Allegiance’ in the Treatise on Human Nature. Hume had dismissed the doctrine as an ‘absurdity’ 5. but in ‘Of Passive Obedience’, written in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745, Hume takes a sympathetic view of it.
The essay is a companion piece to ‘Of the Original Contract’, examining the ‘practical consequences’ of the kind of ‘speculative system’ to which one holds in politics. Defence of the Whig doctrine of ‘resistance’ leads to potential insurrection and rebellion. The possibility of tyrannicide or assassination, ‘approved of by ancient maxims, instead of keeping tyrants and usurpers in awe, made them ten times more fierce and unrelenting’. It focuses too exclusively on the rare, tyrannical exceptions to the general rule in the government of civil society. Hume stresses the foundational nature of ‘allegiance’ for the preservation of society: ‘Here I must confess, that I shall always incline to their side, who draw the bond of allegiance very close’ (96 /490).
But he nevertheless recognises two reasons for upholding the doctrine of resistance. First, obedience may carried too far, and effectively preclude any critique of the tyrannical abuse of authority; second, the British form of government tends to treat its magistrates as ‘above the law’ (98 /491). ‘Resistance therefore must, of course, become more frequent in the British government, than in others, which are simpler, and consist of fewer parts and movements’ (492 ). Hume takes Charles I and James the II as cautionary examples of the tyrannical misuse of power within such a system. By ‘mistaking the nature of our constitution, and engrossing the whole legislative power, it became necessary to oppose them with some vehemence’.References to this text in other articles in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse.
1. The essays in the Cahiers are dated as follows: ‘Of the First Principles of Government’ (1742), ‘Of the Origin of Government’ (1742), ‘Of the Original Contract’ (1752), ‘Of Passive Obedience’ (1752). According to Eugene Miller’s scholarly edition of Hume’s Essays Moral, Political and Literary. the essays were published as follows: ‘Of the First Principles of Government’ (1741), ‘Of the Original Contract’ (1748), ‘Of Passive Obedience’ (1748), and ‘Of the Origin of Government’ (1777). For information on the publication dates of the contents of Hume’s Essays, see Eugene Miller’s ‘Foreword’ to Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. xi-xvii. ↵
2. In an editorial note to his edition of the Essays. Eugene Miller notes that Hume’s target here was probably James Harrington, who maintained in The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656) that the balance of political power depends on the balance of property. Hume discusses Harrington’s views on right to property in the essays ‘Whether the British Government inclines more to an Absolute Monarchy, or to a Republic’ (1741; Essays. Part 1, Essay 6, see in particular 47-48), and ‘Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth’ (1754; Essays. Part 2, Essay 16. In the latter essay, Hume relates Harrington’s ideas about the rotation of power in a commonwealth to Machiavelli’s idea that ‘a government [. ] must often be brought back to its original principles’ (516). Machiavelli’s account of the conditions for the existence of a republic is represented in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse in the extract from the Discourses on Livy in CpA 6.4 ↵
3. Cf. Hume, Treatise. Book III, 2.2; Enquiry. 206-9. ↵
4. Hume, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. 488-9n. ↵
5. Hume, Treatise. Book III, 2.9. ↵
David Hume has had a massive influence on the free will debate. Much of this influence is attributed to the chapter 'Liberty and Necessity' in his book 'An Enquiry into Human Understanding' which is the focus of this essay. What we see overall is Hume forwarding a new theory called compatibalism, in which he attempts to combine human free will or 'liberty' (choice. responsibility, morality) with causality or 'necessity' (all things have a cause, cause always preceeds or comes with an effect) by re-defining what we mean by these terms. Essentially Hume makes liberty and necessity compatible with one another, when previously they were not. Hume concludes by arguing that they have always been compatible, people only thought they were not compatible because they had confused ideas about what liberty and necessity actually meant. Ultimately Hume's compatibalist theory is original in its attempt to re-define and unite liberty and necessity, while at the same time maintaining that morality is dependent upon a compatibalist argument and that ideas about religion and God are illogical.
In Hume's time of writing there were two major theories in the free will debate. They are now commonly referred to as Hard determinism and Libertarianism. Hard determinism argues that all events are both causes and effects, that the universe is governed by cause and effect so rigorously that everything that happens had to happen and could not have happened any other way. For example, an effect (a match lighting) happens because of a cause (the match being struck). Often what is referred to is a causal circumstance, because it is necessary to have more than one cause or set of conditions for an effect to happen, (for a match to light it not only has to be struck but there has to be oxygen present and the match has to be dry etc.). This is simple cause and effect. When Hard determinism is taken to be how the entire world (and universe) operates, it has important.
David Hume. (1969, December 31). In MegaEssays.com. Retrieved 18:49, July 26, 2016, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/4917.html
MegaEssays. "David Hume." MegaEssays.com. MegaEssays.com, (December 31, 1969). Web. 26 Jul. 2016.
MegaEssays, "David Hume.," MegaEssays.com, http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/4917.html (accessed July 26, 2016)
During his lifetime, Hume was more famous as a historian; his six-volume History of England was a bestseller well into the nineteenth century and the standard work on English history for many years, while his works in philosophy to which he owes his current reputation were less widely read during his day.
Hume was heavily influenced by empiricists John Locke and George Berkeley. along with various French-speaking writers such as Pierre Bayle. and various figures on the English-speaking intellectual landscape such as Isaac Newton. Samuel Clarke. Francis Hutcheson. and Joseph Butler (to whom he sent his first work for feedback). 
In the twentieth century, Hume has increasingly become a source of inspiration for those in political philosophy and economics as an early and subtle thinker in the liberal tradition, as well as an early innovator in the genre of the essay in his Essays Moral, Political, and Literary. Contents Life Edit
David Hume, originally David Home, son of Joseph Home of Chirnside. advocate, and Katherine Falconer, was born on 26 April 1711 (Old Style ) in a tenement on the north side of the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh. He changed his name in 1734 because the English had difficulty pronouncing 'Home' in the Scottish manner. Throughout his life Hume, who never married, spent time occasionally at his family home at Ninewells by Chirnside. Berwickshire. Hume was politically a Whig. Education Edit
Hume attended the University of Edinburgh at the unusually early age of twelve (possibly as young as ten) at a time when fourteen was normal. At first he considered a career in law. but came to have, in his words, "an insurmountable aversion to everything but the pursuits of Philosophy and general Learning; and while [my family] fanceyed I was poring over Voet and Vinnius. Cicero and Virgil were the Authors which I was secretly devouring".  He had little respect for the professors of his time, telling a friend in 1735, "there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor. which is not to be met with in Books". 
Hume made a philosophical discovery that opened up to him "a new Scene of Thought", which inspired him "to throw up every other Pleasure or Business to apply entirely to it".  He did not recount what this "Scene" was, and commentators have offered a variety of speculations.  Due to this inspiration, Hume set out to spend a minimum of ten years reading and writing. He came to the verge of nervous breakdown. after which he decided to have a more active life to better continue his learning. Career Edit
As Hume's options lay between a traveling tutorship and a stool in a merchant's office, he chose the latter. In 1734, after a few months occupied with commerce in Bristol. he went to La Flèche in Anjou. France. There he had frequent discourse with the Jesuits of the College of La Flèche. As he had spent most of his savings during his four years there while writing A Treatise of Human Nature .  he resolved "to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible except the improvements of my talents in literature".  He completed the Treatise at the age of 26.
Although many scholars today consider the Treatise to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in Western philosophy, the critics in Great Britain at the time did not agree, describing it as "abstract and unintelligible".  Despite the disappointment, Hume later wrote, "Being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I soon recovered from the blow and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country".  There, he wrote the Abstract  Without revealing his authorship, he aimed to make his larger work more intelligible.
After the publication of Essays Moral and Political in 1744, Hume applied for the Chair of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. However, the position was given to William Cleghorn. after Edinburgh ministers petitioned the town council not to appoint Hume because he was seen as an atheist. 
During the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. Hume tutored the Marquis of Annandale (1720–92), who was officially described as a "lunatic".  This engagement ended in disarray after about a year. But it was then that Hume started his great historical work The History of Great Britain . which would take fifteen years and run to over a million words, to be published in six volumes in the period between 1754 and 1762, while also involved with the Canongate Theatre. In this context, he associated with Lord Monboddo and other Scottish Enlightenment luminaries in Edinburgh. From 1746, Hume served for three years as Secretary to Lieutenant-General St Clair. and wrote Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding. later published as An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding . The Enquiry proved little more successful than the Treatise.
Hume was charged with heresy. but he was defended by his young clerical friends, who argued that—as an atheist —he was outside the Church's jurisdiction. Despite his acquittal, Hume failed to gain the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.
It was after returning to Edinburgh in 1752, as he wrote in My Own Life. that "the Faculty of Advocates chose me their Librarian, an office from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library".  This resource enabled him to continue historical research for The History of Great Britain.
Hume achieved great literary fame as a historian. His enormous The History of Great Britain . tracing events from the Saxon kingdoms to the Glorious Revolution. was a best-seller in its day. In it, Hume presented political man as a creature of habit, with a disposition to submit quietly to established government unless confronted by uncertain circumstances. In his view, only religious difference could deflect men from their everyday lives to think about political matters.
However, Hume's volume of Political Discourses (published by Kincaid & Donaldson. 1752)  was the only work he considered successful on first publication. Religion Edit
Hume wrote on religion. However, the question of what were Hume's personal views on religion is a difficult one.  The Church of Scotland seriously considered bringing charges of infidelity against him.  He never declared himself to be an atheist, but if he had been hostile to religion, Hume's writings would have had to be constrained to being ambiguous about his own views. He did not acknowledge his authorship of many of his works in this area until close to his death, and some were not even published until afterwards.
There are several places in his works [citation needed ] where Hume specifically seems to support the standard religious views of his time and place. This still meant that he could be very critical of the Roman Church, referring to it as superstition and idolatry, as well as dismissing what his compatriots would see as more uncivilised beliefs. [citation needed ] He also considered extreme Protestant sects to be corrupters of religion. Yet he also put forward arguments that suggested that polytheism had much to commend it in preference to monotheism. In his works, he attacked many of the basic assumptions of religion and Christian belief, and his arguments have become the foundation of much of the succeeding secular thinking about religion. In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. one of his protagonists demolished what was the main intellectual argument for the belief in God or one god (especially in the Age of Enlightenment ): the Argument from Design. Also, in his Of Miracles. he carried out a thoroughgoing condemnation of the idea that religion (specifically Christianity) is supported by revelation.
Nevertheless, he was capable of writing in the introduction to his The Natural History of Religion "The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author". In spite of that, he writes at the end of the essay: "Examine the religious principles, which have, in fact, prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded, that they are anything but sick men's dreams", and "Doubt, uncertainty, suspence of judgement appear the only result of our most accurate scrutiny, concerning this subject".
It is likely that Hume was sceptical both about religious belief (at least as demanded by the religious organisations of his time) and of the complete atheism promoted by such contemporaries as Baron d'Holbach. Russell (2008) suggests that perhaps Hume's position is best characterised by the term "irreligion". O'Connor (2001, p19) writes that Hume "did not believe in the God of standard theism. but he did not rule out all concepts of deity". Also, "ambiguity suited his purposes, and this creates difficulty in definitively pinning down his final position on religion".Later life Edit
From 1763 to 1765, Hume was Secretary to Lord Hertford in Paris. He met and later fell out with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He wrote of his Paris life, "I really wish often for the plain roughness of The Poker Club of Edinburgh. to correct and qualify so much lusciousness".  For a year from 1767, Hume held the appointment of Under Secretary of State for the Northern Department. In 1768, he settled in Edinburgh.
James Boswell visited Hume a few weeks before his death (most likely of either bowel or liver cancer ). Hume told him he sincerely believed it a "most unreasonable fancy" that there might be life after death.  This meeting was dramatized in semi-fictional form for the BBC by Michael Ignatieff as Dialogue in the Dark. Hume wrote his own epitaph: "Born 1711, Died [—]. Leaving it to posterity to add the rest". It is engraved with the year of his death 1776 on the "simple Roman tomb" he prescribed, and which stands, as he wished it, on the Eastern slope of the Calton Hill overlooking his home in the New Town of Edinburgh at No. 1 St. David Street.Science of man Edit
In the introduction to A Treatise of Human Nature. Hume writes "'Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, more or less, to human nature. Even Mathematics. Natural Philosophy. and Natural Religion. are in some measure dependent on the science of Man". Also, "the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences", and the method for this science assumes "experience and observation" as the foundations of a logical argument.  Because "Hume's plan is to extend to philosophy in general the methodological limitations of Newtonian physics " . Hume is characterised as an empiricist.
Until recently, Hume was seen as a forerunner of the logical positivist movement; a form of anti-metaphysical empiricism. According to the logical positivists, unless a statement could be verified by experience, or else was true or false by definition (i.e. either tautological or contradictory ), then it was meaningless (this is a summary statement of their verification principle ). Hume, on this view, was a proto-positivist, who, in his philosophical writings, attempted to demonstrate how ordinary propositions about objects, causal relations, the self, and so on, are semantically equivalent to propositions about one's experiences. 
Many commentators have since rejected this understanding of Humean empiricism, stressing an epistemological. rather than a semantic reading of his project.  According to this view, Hume's empiricism consisted in the idea that it is our knowledge, and not our ability to conceive, that is restricted to what can be experienced. To be sure, Hume thought that we can form beliefs about that which extends beyond any possible experience, through the operation of faculties such as custom and the imagination, but he was skeptical about claims to knowledge on this basis.Induction Edit
The cornerstone of Hume's epistemology is the so-called Problem of Induction. It has been argued that it is in this area of Hume's thought that his skepticism about human powers of reason is the most pronounced.  Understanding the problem of induction, then, is central to grasping Hume's general philosophical system.
The problem concerns the explanation of how we are able to make inductive inferences. Inductive inference is reasoning from the observed behavior of objects to their behavior when unobserved; as Hume says, it is a question of how things behave when they go "beyond the present testimony of the senses, and the records of our memory".  Hume notices that we tend to believe that things behave in a regular manner; i.e. that patterns in the behavior of objects will persist into the future, and throughout the unobserved present (this persistence of regularities is sometimes called the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature ).
Hume's argument is that we cannot rationally justify the claim that nature will continue to be uniform, as justification comes in only two varieties, and both of these are inadequate. The two sorts are: (1) demonstrative reasoning, and (2) probable reasoning.  With regard to (1), Hume argues that the uniformity principle cannot be demonstrated, as it is "consistent and conceivable" that nature might stop being regular.  Turning to (2), Hume argues that we cannot hold that nature will continue to be uniform because it has been in the past, as this is using the very sort of reasoning (induction) that is under question: it would be circular reasoning.  Thus no form of justification will rationally warrant our inductive inferences.
Hume's solution to this skeptical problem is to argue that, rather than reason, it is natural instinct that explains our ability to make inductive inferences. He asserts that "Nature, by an absolute and uncontroulable [sic ]Causation Edit
The notion of causation is closely linked to the problem of induction. According to Hume, we reason inductively by associating constantly conjoined events, and it is the mental act of association that is the basis of our concept of causation. There are three main interpretations of Hume's theory of causation represented in the literature: (1) the logical positivist; (2) the skeptical realist; and (3) the quasi-realist.
The logical positivist interpretation is that Hume analyses causal propositions, such as "A caused B", in terms of regularities in perception: "A caused B" is equivalent to "Whenever A-type events happen, B-type ones follow", where "whenever" refers to all possible perceptions. 
power and necessity. are. qualities of perceptions, not of objects. felt by the soul and not perceived externally in bodies 
This view is rejected by skeptical realists. who argue that Hume thought that causation amounts to more than just the regular succession of events.  When two events are causally conjoined, there is a necessary connection which underpins the conjunction:
Shall we rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By no means. there is a necessary connexion to be taken into consideration. 
Hume held that we have no perceptual access to the necessary connection (hence skepticism ), but we are naturally compelled to believe in its objective existence (hence realism ).
It has been argued that, whilst Hume did not think causation is reducible to pure regularity, he was not a fully fledged realist either: Simon Blackburn calls this a quasi-realist reading.  On this view, talk about causal necessity is an expression of a functional change in the human mind, whereby certain events are predicted or anticipated on the basis of prior experience. The expression of causal necessity is a "projection" of the functional change onto the objects involved in the causal connection: in Hume's words, "nothing is more usual than to apply to external bodies every internal sensation which they occasion". The self Edit
According to the standard interpretation of Hume on personal identity. he was a Bundle Theorist. who held that the self is nothing but a bundle of interconnected perceptions linked by relations of similarity and causality; or, more accurately, that our idea of the self is just the idea of such a bundle. This view is forwarded by, for example, positivist interpreters, who saw Hume as suggesting that terms such as "self", "person", or "mind" referred to collections of "sense-contents".  A modern-day version of the bundle theory of the mind has been advanced by Derek Parfit in his Reasons and Persons (1986).
However, some philosophers have criticised the bundle-theory interpretation of Hume on personal identity. It is argued that distinct selves can have perceptions which stand in relations of similarity and causality with one another. Thus perceptions must already come parcelled into distinct "bundles" before they can be associated according to the relations of similarity and causality: in other words, the mind must already possess a unity that cannot be generated, or constituted, by these relations alone. Since the bundle-theory interpretation attributes Hume with answering an ontological or conceptual question, philosophers who see Hume as not very concerned with such questions have queried whether the view is really Hume's, or "only a decoy".  Instead, it is suggested, Hume might have been answering an epistemological question, about the causal origin of our concept of the self.Practical reason Edit
Hume's anti-rationalism informed much of his theory of belief and knowledge, in his treatment of the notions of induction, causation, and the external world. But it was not confined to this sphere, and permeated just as strongly his theories of motivation, action, and morality. In a famous sentence in the Treatise. Hume circumscribes reason's role in the production of action:
Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. 
It has been suggested that this position can be lucidly brought out through the metaphor of "direction of fit ": beliefs—the paradigmatic products of reason—are propositional attitudes that aim to have their content fit the world; conversely, desires—or what Hume calls passions, or sentiments—are states that aim to fit the world to their contents.  Though a metaphor, it has been argued that this intuitive way of understanding Hume's theory that desires are necessary for motivation "captures something quite deep in our thought about their nature". 
Hume's anti-rationalism has been very influential, and defended in contemporary philosophy of action by neo-Humeans such as Michael Smith  and Simon Blackburn  The major opponents of the Humean view are cognitivists about what it is to act for a reason, such as John McDowell.  and Kantians, such as Christine Korsgaard. Ethics Edit
Hume's views on human motivation and action formed the cornerstone of his ethical theory: he conceived moral or ethical sentiments to be intrinsically motivating, or the providers of reasons for action. Given that one cannot be motivated by reason alone, requiring the input of the passions, Hume argued that reason cannot be behind morality Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason. 
Hume's sentimentalism about morality was shared by his close friend Adam Smith.  and Hume and Smith were mutually influenced by the moral reflections of Francis Hutcheson. Free will, determinism, and responsibility Edit
Hume, along with Thomas Hobbes. is cited as a classical compatibilist about the notions of freedom and determinism.  The thesis of compatibilism seeks to reconcile human freedom with the mechanist belief that human beings are part of a deterministic universe, whose happenings are governed by the laws of physics.
Hume argued that the dispute about the compatibility of freedom and determinism has been kept afloat by ambiguous terminology:
From this circumstance alone, that a controversy has been long kept on foot. we may presume, that there is some ambiguity in the expression. 
Hume defines the concepts of "necessity" and "liberty" as follows:
Necessity: "the uniformity, observable in the operations of nature; where similar objects are constantly conjoined together..". 
Liberty: "a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will. ". 
Hume then argues that, according to these definitions, not only are the two compatible, but Liberty requires Necessity. For if our actions were not necessitated in the above sense, they would "have so little in connexion [sic] with motives, inclinations and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other". But if our actions are not thus hooked up to the will, then our actions can never be free: they would be matters of "chance; which is universally allowed not to exist". 
Moreover, Hume goes on to argue that in order to be held morally responsible, it is required that our behaviour be caused, i.e. necessitated, for
Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and perishing; and where they proceed not from some cause in the character and disposition of the person who performed them, they can neither redound to his honour, if good; nor infamy, if evil". 
This argument has inspired modern day commentators.  However, it has been argued that the issue of whether or not we hold one another morally responsible does not ultimately depend on the truth or falsity of a metaphysical thesis such as determinism, for our so holding one another is a non-rational human sentiment that is not predicated on such theses. For this influential argument, which is still made in a Humean vein, see P. F. Strawson 's essay, Freedom and Resentment. Problem of miracles Edit
In his discussion of miracles in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Section 10) Hume defines a miracle as "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent". Given that Hume argues that it is impossible to deduce the existence of a Deity from the existence of the world (for he says that causes cannot be determined from effects), miracles (including prophesy) are the only possible support he would conceivably allow for theistic religions.
Hume discusses everyday belief as often resulted from probability, where we believe an event that has occurred most often as being most likely, but that we also subtract the weighting of the less common event from that of the more common event. In the context of miracles, this means that a miraculous event should be labelled a miracle only where it would be even more unbelievable (by principles of probability) for it not to be. Hume mostly discusses miracles as testimony, of which he writes that when a person reports a miraculous event we [need to] balance our belief in their veracity against our belief that such events do not occur. Following this rule, only where it is considered, as a result of experience, less likely that the testimony is false than that a miracle occur should we believe in miracles.
Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history: 
Despite all this Hume observes that belief in miracles is popular, and that "The gazing populace receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition and promotes wonder". [citation needed ]
Critics have argued that Hume's position assumes the character of miracles and natural laws prior to any specific examination of miracle claims, and thus it amounts to a subtle form of begging the question. They have also noted that it requires an appeal to inductive inference, as none have observed every part of nature or examined every possible miracle claim (e.g. those yet future to the observer), which in Hume's philosophy was especially problematic.
Hume's main argument concerning miracles is the following. Miracles by definition are singular events which differ from the established Laws of Nature. The Laws of Nature are codified at as a result of past experiences. Therefore a miracle is a violation of all prior experience. However the probability that something has occurred in contradiction of all may past experience should always be judged to be less than the probability that either my senses have deceived me or the person recounting the miraculous occurence is lying or mistaken, all of which I have past experience of. For Hume this refusal to grant credence does not garauntee correctness - he offers the example of an Indian Prince, who having grown up in a hot country refuses to believe that water has frozen. By Hume's lights this refusal is not wrong and the Prince is thinking correctly; it is presumably only when he has had extensive experience of the freezing of water that he has warrent to believe that the event could occur. So for Hume, either the miraculous event will become a recurr event or else it will never be rational to believe it occured. The connection to religious belief is left inexplicit throughout save for the close of his discussion wherein Hume notes the reliance of Christianity upon testimony of miraculous occurences and makes an ironic   remark that anyone who "is moved by faith to assent" to revealed testimony "is aware of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience."Design argument Edit
One of the oldest and most popular arguments for the existence of God is the design argument. that order and "purpose" in the world bespeaks a divine origin. Hume gave the classic criticism of the design argument in Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding . However, Hume argued that for the design argument to be feasible, it must be true that order and purpose are observed only when they result from design. But order is often observed to result from presumably mindless processes like the generation of snowflakes and crystals. Design can account for only a tiny part of our experience of order. Furthermore, the design argument is based on an incomplete analogy. Because of our experience with objects, we can recognise human-designed ones, as when we compare a pile of stones with a constructed wall, but to deduce that the Universe is designed, we would need to have an experience of a range of different universes. As we only experience one, the analogy cannot be applied. We must ask therefore if it is right to compare the world to a machine—as in Paley 's watchmaker analogy —when perhaps it could be better described as a giant inert animal. Even if the design argument is completely successful, it could not (in and of itself) establish a robust theism. One could easily reach the conclusion that the universe's configuration is the result of some morally ambiguous, possibly unintelligent agent or agents whose method bears only a remote similarity to human design. In this way it could be asked, if the Universe is designed, is the designer God? It could also be asked, if there is a designer god, who designed the designer? If a well-ordered natural world requires a special designer, then God's mind (being so well-ordered) also requires a special designer. Then this designer would need a designer, and so on ad infinitum. Furthermore, if we could be happy with an inexplicably self-ordered divine mind, why should we not rest content with an inexplicably self-ordered natural world? Often, what appears to be purpose, where it looks like object X has feature F in order to secure outcome O, is better explained by a filtering process: that is, object X wouldn't be around did it not possess feature F, and outcome O is only interesting to us as a human projection of goals onto nature. This mechanical explanation of teleology anticipated natural selection. The design argument doesn't explain pain, suffering, and natural disasters.Political theory Edit
It is difficult to categorize Hume's political affiliations. His thought contains elements that are, in modern terms, both conservative and liberal. as well as ones that are both contractarian and utilitarian. though these terms are all anachronistic. His central concern is to show the importance of the rule of law, and stresses throughout his political Essays the importance of moderation in politics. This outlook needs to be seen within the historical context of eighteenth century Scotland, where the legacy of religious civil war, combined with the relatively recent memory of the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings, fostered in a historian such as Hume a distaste for enthusiasm and factionalism that appeared to threaten the fragile and nascent political and social stability of a country that was deeply politically and religiously divided. He thinks that society is best governed by a general and impartial system of laws, based principally on the "artifice" of contract; he is less concerned about the form of government that administers these laws, so long as it does so fairly (though he thought that republics were more likely to do so than monarchies).
Hume expressed suspicion of attempts to reform society in ways that departed from long-established custom, and he counselled peoples not to resist their governments except in cases of the most egregious tyranny . However, he resisted aligning himself with either of Britain's two political parties, the Whigs and the Tories. and he believed that we should try to balance our demands for liberty with the need for strong authority, without sacrificing either. Neil McArthur (2007, p. 124) characterizes Hume as a 'precautionary conservative': whose actions would have been "determined by prudential concerns about the consequences of change, which often demand we ignore our own principles about what is ideal or even legitimate" . He supported liberty of the press. and was sympathetic to democracy. when suitably constrained. It has been argued that he was a major inspiration for James Madison 's writings, and the Federalist No. 10 in particular. He was also, in general, an optimist about social progress, believing that, thanks to the economic development that comes with the expansion of trade, societies progress from a state of "barbarism" to one of "civilisation". Civilised societies are open, peaceful and sociable, and their citizens are as a result much happier. It is therefore not fair to characterise him, as Leslie Stephen did, as favouring "that stagnation which is the natural ideal of a skeptic ". 
Though it has been suggested Hume had no positive vision of the best society, he in fact produced an essay titled Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth .  which lays out what he thought was the best form of government. His pragmatism shone through, however, in his caveat that we should only seek to implement such a system should an opportunity present itself, which would not upset established structures. He defended a strict separation of powers. decentralisation. extending the franchise to anyone who held property of value and limiting the power of the clergy. The Swiss militia system was proposed as the best form of protection. Elections were to take place on an annual basis and representatives were to be unpaid. It is also important to note that the ideal commonwealth laid out by Hume was held to be ideal only for the British Isles in the 18th century. Hume was a relativist, and realized that such a form of government would not be ideal for all cultures, nor would it necessarily be permanent as historical conditions change. [citation needed ]Contributions to economic thought Edit
Through his discussions on politics, Hume developed many ideas that are prevalent in the field of economics. This includes ideas on private property, inflation, and foreign trade. 
Hume does not believe, as Locke does, that private property is a natural right, but he argues that it is justified since resources are limited. If all goods were unlimited and available freely, then private property would not be justified, but instead becomes an "idle ceremonial". Hume also believed in unequal distribution of property, since perfect equality would destroy the ideas of thrift and industry. Perfect equality would thus lead to impoverishment. 
Hume did not believe that foreign trade produced specie, but considered trade a stimulus for a country's economic growth. He did not consider the volume of world trade as fixed because countries can feed off their neighbors' wealth, being part of a "prosperous community". The fall in foreign demand is not that fatal, because in the long run, a country cannot preserve a leading trading position.
Hume was among the first to develop automatic price-specie flow. an idea that contrasts with the mercantile system. Simply put, when a country increases its in-flow of gold, this in-flow of gold will result in price inflation, and then price inflation will force out countries from trading that would have traded before the inflation. This results in a decrease of the in-flow of gold in the long run.
Hume also proposed a theory of beneficial inflation. He believed that increasing the money supply would raise production in the short run. This phenomenon would be caused by a gap between the increase in the money supply and that of the price level. The result is that prices will not rise at first and may not rise at all. This theory was later developed by John Maynard Keynes.As historian of England Edit
Between Hume's death and 1894, there were at least 50 editions of his 6-volume History of England . a work of immense sweep. The subtitle tells us as much, "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688".
There was also an often-reprinted abridgement, The Student's Hume (1859).
Hume's history was that of a Tory. in sharp contrast to the Whiggish works then prevailing.
Another remarkable feature of the series was that it widened the focus of history, away from merely Kings, Parliaments, and armies, including literature and science as well.Template:POV-statementWorks Edit
Attention to Hume's philosophical works grew after the German philosopher Immanuel Kant credited Hume with awakening him from "dogmatic slumbers" (circa 1770). 
According to Schopenhauer. "there is more to be learned from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel. Herbart and Schleiermacher taken together". 
A. J. Ayer (1936), introducing his classic exposition of logical positivism, claimed: "the views which are put forward in this treatise derive from the logical outcome of the empiricism of Berkeley and Hume".  Albert Einstein (1915) wrote that he was inspired by Hume's positivism when formulating his Special Theory of Relativity . Hume was called "the prophet of the Wittgensteinian revolution" by N. Phillipson, referring to his view that mathematics and logic are closed systems, disguised tautologies, and have no relation to the world of experience.  David Fate Norton (1993) asserted that Hume was "the first post-sceptical philosopher of the early modern period". 
Hume's Problem of Induction was also of fundamental importance to the philosophy of Karl Popper. In his autobiography, Unended Quest . he wrote: "'Knowledge'. is objective ; and it is hypothetical or conjectural. This way of looking at the problem made it possible for me to reformulate Hume's problem of induction ". This insight resulted in Popper's major work The Logic of Scientific Discovery . In his Conjectures and Refutations. p 55, he writes: "I approached the problem of induction through Hume. Hume, I felt, was perfectly right in pointing out that induction cannot be logically justified".See also Edit Footnotes Edit