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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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Alternatives and Applications

Alternatives and Applications

(p.211) Chapter Six Alternatives and Applications
The Opinion of Mankind

Paul Sagar

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the viability of thinking about the state, and political theory more generally, from David Hume and Adam Smith's perspective. It argues that there is something paradoxical in the claim that Hume and Smith offer theories of the state without sovereignty. It also discusses two examples of how we can use Hume and Smith's reconfguration for understanding the state: the first deals with the place of democracy in modern politics; the second relates to how we may come to conceive of the normative purposes and possibilities that the modern state encompasses. Furthermore, the chapter analyzes the claim that the modern state is an outgrowth of commercial sociability, and that its chief function, and ultimate source of legitimacy, is the promotion of utility whilst securing the allegiance of subjects through opinion. Finally, it compares Immanuel Kant and Smith's views on the judgment of rulers with regard to political reform.

Keywords:   modern state, political theory, David Hume, Adam Smith, sovereignty, democracy, commercial sociability, utility, opinion, Immanuel Kant

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