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The Opinion of MankindSociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith$
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Paul Sagar

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178882

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178882.001.0001

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The State without Sovereignty

The State without Sovereignty

(p.103) Chapter Three The State without Sovereignty
The Opinion of Mankind

Paul Sagar

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how David Hume developed a thoroughly anti-Hobbesian theory of politics, culminating in a theory of the state without sovereignty. Hume does not explain political obligation in terms of what rulers are justified in expecting from the ruled, by virtue of the particular kind of relationship they stand in toward them as rulers. Instead, his focus is upon the ruled themselves—the bearers of the “opinion of mankind”—and the psychological processes by which they see themselves as bound by the authority of their superiors, whom they always outnumber but nevertheless tend to obey. The chapter first considers Hobbes's ambiguity in addressing political obligation at its limit before discussing the foundations of John Locke's theory of authority and Hume's alternative view. It also analyzes Hume's arguments about the relationship between utility and authority, along with the role of philosophy in the opinion of mankind.

Keywords:   sovereignty, David Hume, theory of the state, political obligation, John Locke, authority, utility, philosophy, opinion of mankind, theory of politics

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