more from David Hume

Single Idea 21101

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract]

Full Idea

When we assert that all lawful government arises from the consent of the people, we certainly do them a great deal more honour than they deserve, or even expect or desire from us.

Gist of Idea

The people would be amazed to learn that government arises from their consent


David Hume (Of the original contract [1741], p.285)

Book Reference

Hume,David: 'Selected Essays' [OUP 1996], p.285

A Reaction

Hume has no interest in the purely abstract idea of a contract, and scorns Locke's idea of tacit consent to government. I assume he would dismiss Rawls as unrealistic theorising. Hume loves peace, and is alarmed by change.