Social and Political Philosophy

Date: Sep 14, 2017
Category: Philosophy Essay


Much can be accorded to the exertions of the Scottish philosopher named David Hume (1711-1776) as fur as his postulations are concerned on the day to day applicability as asserted by (Hardin, 2007). Typically, Hume has for a long time been perceived to be a contemporary of Rousseau (1712-1778); on basis that both were extensively associated with the reformist engagements of the enlightenment (Hayman, 2000). It was classical for them holding an optimistic view about human nature on grounds that human nature is perfect unless corrupted by the social doctrines or environment that surrounds them. From these premises, assorted aspects about human life and its implications on politics can be drawn.

Consequently, social as well as political philosophies pin massive applications on Hume's premise. For instance, an argument presented by Hume on reason versus passion has a political significance as an application (Hardin, 2007). This study seeks to analyze the applicability of Hume's exertions on political philosophy (reason and passion in humans) in addition to his criticism of the social contrast postulate (the original contract) and finally evaluate Comparisons as well as contrasts amid Immanuel Kant's commencement of freedom (theory and practice) versus that of John Locke's perception of freedom.

Significance of Hume's premise of Reason and Passion to Political Philosophy

Firstly, a critical analysis of Hume's postulation of how human reasons and passion correlate comes handy. In light of this, it is vital to compare the point of divergence between Hume and Rousseau who had held analogous views about human nature as aforementioned. In this regard, as Rousseau was much engulfed in search of solutions to human afflictions such as inequality, sociability vices as well as egotism utilizing an approach that could revamp human institutions; Hume was much dubious of such views and programs being successful. In his case, Hume became a proponent of the methodical empiricism as premised by Locke in addition to holding on the views of Locke about human mind (commonly as authentic tabula rasa) (Hardin, 2007).

Hume agrees that the notion on innate ideas as well as spacious doctrines had been falsified. He simply doubted the famous laws of nature that Locke claims to subsist in. loaded with this fact, the significance of Hume's postulate about reason and passion on political philosophy can be cultivated. In his second book entitled (A treatise to Human Nature) of the passions, Hume is determined to put forward two points; one is seeking to prove that reason as a lone entity is not an adequate motive to pursue any given action, and secondly premising that reason cannot contest passion in pursuance to a certain will. In this regard therefore, it is evident that reason alone cannot unswervingly influence human actions including making political choices (Hardin, 2007).

Thus, ability of a reason to be a master to passion is doubted as fur as human nature and way of life such as political affiliations are concerned. In essence, political viewpoint utilizes reason simply as an avenue that offers excuses or even rationalization that come as determinants to exposing human passion. This is why passion becomes a master to reason. In this connection, Hume in this second book declares reason to being the slave of passion insisting that it can principally serve and obey the passion but not pretend to any other office (404) (Hardin, 2007).

In nature, this study finds it significant that Hume's exertions have partial applicability. To an extent, passion has been the force behind people aligning themselves to certain political affiliations. However, reason (especially for self gain) has gradually overtaken passion as far as political linkages are concerned. In pretence to having passion for certain policies or leadership of any given political grouping, the inner drive is reason which has characterized most autocratic states. However, Hume holds up that reason primarily endeavors to propose what we believe is true, or even false or simply because one is undecided.

Critical Analysis of Hume's Criticism on Social Contract

Additionally, it is essential to look at Hume's criticism of the social contract supposition. Here, the premise is that the development of a social contract is the solitary approach to checking anti-social passions that principally encompass greed and selfishness. In the essay (of the social contract), he is decisive of the social contract custom in political philosophy. He simply does not believe that social contract can be used to legitimize any government. The social contract has a diminutive purpose and that only moral principles or laws are accepted to be guardians to property rights. Here, property is an imperative category of moral relations in all individuals. This is binding since an individual may opt to relate naturally to what he/she owns merely because he/she has (for instance) to eat what he might grow, clothe, sleep at a given place among others. However, these natural utilities on which we can pin possessions are not obligatory features of property since one may opt to eat for example herbs or fruits that grow naturally (not belong to an individual) as well as subsisting on food that others provide to the person (Hayman, 2000).

Through social convention, man bequeaths stability on possessions from the external goods and still abscond those designated for peaceful contentment acquired through fortune or work (Hayman, 2000). This is why Hume holds the version that such happening are not promises or contract results but is a gradual cognition and acquiescence among humans. From this, it is evident that social contract (property contract) is a historical development and simply an agreement among people. We can thus analogous this to language development or use of currencies as well as the general acceptance of traditional governments (monarchies) or current ones.

Comparative Discussion of Locke's & Kent's Views on Freedom

Finally, comparative analysis of Kent's perception of freedom to Locke's views on the subject cannot be overlooked in this study. Locke has it that human mind is a genuine tabula rasa. He holds that persons are endorsed with customary right to self preservation. As a whole, the community can exercise this freedom. However, an individual's right to arms is undermined. Thus, individuals have to give up some of their rights so that force is permitted to take rule especially in solving conflicts. This is the reason for the community to offer support for collective right at expense of individual rights (Hayman, 2000). Both agree on existence of inalienable rights and legal rights. In this connection, Locke identifies life, liberty in addition to property as natural rights that are irreplaceable under the social contract. He justifies the rebellion of the American colonies on this ground.

On the other hand, Kent draws natural right purely on basis of reason. He holds that declaration of independence is pinned on self evidence (reason) coupled with the truth that individuals are accorded inalienable rights endowed to them by their creator. Thus have a simulated holding to that of Locke but the divergence being Kent's basis of reason. In conclusion, it is evident that Hume's supposition that passion overmasters reason holds since reason is majorly intended for excuses than passion which drives the human course of action. Additionally, Hume's criticism of social contract is pertinent in essence that person can opt or simply acquire possessions through uncontrollable rights. Comparatively, Locke identifies liberty, life and property to being prime natural rights which Kent perceives it by reason as the determinant. Both however agree on existence of both natural and legal rights in life.