Of the Origin of Government<sup>1</sup>

Jonathan Harrison

in Hume's Theory of Justice

Published in print January 1980 | ISBN: 9780198246190
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680946 | DOI:
Of the Origin of Government1

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This chapter discusses the following: (1) Whether men (as Hobbes and Locke thought) adopt rules as a protection against others, or whether (as Hume thought) they adopt them as protection against themselves. (2) Whether it is better to be just without seeming it, or to seem just without being it. (3) Whether and why it is in the interest of the rulers to rule. (4) What makes some men become rulers: the usefulness of the love of power. (5) Whether Hume suggested that men were made rulers or made themselves rulers. Whether it is to the rulers' advantage to obey the rules themselves. (6) Government unnecessary in poor societies in time of peace. (7) Why men prefer short-term to long-term interest. (8) ‘Whoever chuses the means, chuses also the end’. (9) ‘What we in an improper sense call reason’ favours the larger long-term pleasure over the smaller short-term one. (10) Would Hume's remarks be applicable to a society in which rulers and ruled were identical? (11) Community of interest between ruler and ruled. (12) Motives other than interest will have a part, but a derivative one, in prompting us to obey our rules. (13) We have no alternative but to speak in favour of rulers on the grounds that they will impose rules upon everybody.

Keywords: rules; just; rulers; government; short-term interest; long-term interest

Chapter.  8995 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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