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Hume's PoliticsCoordination and Crisis in the History of England$
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Andrew Sabl

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134208

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134208.001.0001

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Crown and Charter

Crown and Charter

Fundamental Conventions as Principles of Authority

Chapter:
(p.121) Chapter 4 Crown and Charter
Source:
Hume's Politics
Author(s):

Andrew Sabl

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691134208.003.0005

This chapter explores Hume's theory of fundamental conventions, of how “examples and precedents” come to count as “uniform and ancient.” Few deny that Hume regards both private and public law as matters of convention. But some have recognized that he regards certain conventions as fundamental: immune to alteration (except in the extremely long term, at least generations and more likely centuries) by the usual methods of political power and social change. The claim that Hume does believe in fundamental conventions, that he rests a distinctive form of constitutionalism on the foundations of custom and mutual advantage, is unusual. Part of the problem is that Hume for deliberate and political reasons avoids saying what counts as fundamental and how it becomes so.

Keywords:   David Hume, fundamental conventions, private law, public law, alteration, political power, social change, constitutionalism

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