Politics in Britain


in Philosophy and Ideology in Hume's Political Thought

Published in print March 1984 | ISBN: 9780198246589
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681028 | DOI:
Politics in Britain

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This chapter examines Hume's attitudes towards British politics. Hume appears to have been impressed by the peculiarity and the fragility of the British political system. Its peculiarity could be brought out historically, by seeing that it had arisen, largely by accident, from a combination of factors not likely to be found together again. The system's fragility was mainly attributable to the fact that it rested on an irregular and informal balance between parliament and executive. Hume's attitude towards the death of the constitution can be summed up as follows: considered in the abstract, limited monarchy on the British model is slightly but not vastly superior to absolute monarchy, and much on a par with republican government in its modern form. But the transition to either of these forms, involving changes in deeply rooted habits of allegiance, would be extremely painful, and for that reason alone the constitution is eminently worth defending. So, despite his pessimism, Hume would do his best to see that the system survived.

Keywords: Hume; British politics; Whigs; Tories; constitution; monarchy

Chapter.  9292 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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