David Hume

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some. ‘De l’obéissance passive’ [‘Of Passive Obedience’]

Written around 1745. First printed inThree Essays, Moral and Political(1748), as well containing ‘Of the Original Contract’.Essays Meaningful, Political and Literary, Part two, Essay 13.Online at http://www.econlib.org/library/LFBooks/Hume/hmMPL36.html.

Relating to Eugene Miller in the edition with theEssays, passive obedience refers to ‘the doctrine that it is not lawful, under virtually any pretense in any way, to take hands against the king or people who act beneath the king’s expert. This rgle was held, in the seventeenth 100 years, by the court party, and the 18th century by a segment with the Tory party’. 4 In the chapter ‘On the Procedures of Allegiance’ in theTreatise on Being human, Hume had ignored the cortge as an ‘absurdity’ your five, but in ‘Of Passive Obedience’, written in the aftermath with the Jacobite violent uprising of 1745, Hume needs a sympathetic watch of it.

The essay is actually a companion part to ‘Of the Original Contract’, examining the ‘practical consequences’ of the sort of ‘speculative system’ to which one particular holds in politics. Defence of the Whig doctrine of ‘resistance’ contributes to potential meute and rebellion. The possibility of tyrannicide or murder, ‘approved of by historical maxims, rather than keeping tyrants and usurpers in shock, made them ten instances more fierce and unrelenting’. It centers too specifically on the rare, tyrannical exceptions to the general rule inside the government of civil contemporary society. Hume tensions the foundational nature of ‘allegiance’ to get the maintenance of contemporary society: ‘Here I have to confess, i shall often incline for their side, who have draw the bond of allegiance extremely close’ (96/490).

But he nevertheless acknowledges two reasons behind upholding the doctrine of resistance. Initially, obedience may carried past an acceptable limit, and properly preclude any kind of critique of the tyrannical mistreatment of power; second, the British sort of government will treat the magistrates as ‘above the law’ (98/491). ‘Resistance consequently must, naturally , become more repeated in the British government, than in others, which can be simpler, and consist of fewer parts and movements’ (492). Hume requires Charles I and Adam the 2 as cautionary examples of the tyrannical improper use of power within this kind of a system. Simply by ‘mistaking the nature of our metabolism, and engrossing the whole legal power, it has become necessary to oppose them with several vehemence’.

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