Politics without a subject: David Hume on general rules


  • Giulia Valpione Università degli Studi di Padova


Hume’s skepticism brings him to refuse to trust any norm with mathematical certainty that purports to regulate either nature or politics; both fields are domains of matters of fact, for which it is not possible to find rules that are always valid. For Hume, norms are descriptions of regular repetitions taking place: they are not an account of necessary phenomena. It is the constant repetition that defines laws and not the other way around. This counts both in the cognitive as in the political field: respect for a law is not a consequence of its intrinsic necessity, as the law does not derive from a government to which we necessarily must obey for a transcendent or rational necessity or for an ancient promise of submission.


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