Utility and Reality in Hume’s Political Thought
Abstract: This article aims at explaining a utilitarian and a realistic thought as the keystones of David Hume’s political theory. For this purpose, in the first section, I treat Hume’s moral theory as the basis of his political thinking. Hume thinks that every person has the natural ability to feel utility for society or humankind to be pleasant, but that this inborn ability is nevertheless limited such that we need artificial rules (virtues) for social interest. In the second section, through some concrete examples, I demonstrate that, in Hume’s political theory, such a utilitarian basis is connected solidly with realistic thought. Hume believes that political theory should take into consideration what is really possible for human nature and for the present social situation. Because of human nature, the real human world can never be perfectly moral. Thus, I argue that the central purpose in Hume’s political thought is not to build an ideal and perfect speculative theory; rather, it is to point out the concrete way to make a society or a nation more advantageous for its members in a realizable manner.
Keywords: Hume, Politics, Utility, Reality