THE STATE WITHOUT SOVEREIGNTY: AUTHORITY AND OBLIGATION IN HUME’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
History of Political Thought
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Sagar, P. (2016). THE STATE WITHOUT SOVEREIGNTY: AUTHORITY AND OBLIGATION IN HUME’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.. History of Political Thought, 37 (2), 271-305. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/imp/hpt/2016/00000037/00000002/art00004
Hume has no theory of sovereignty. As a result he is frequently supposed to lack a proper theory of politics, providing only a political sociology incapable of addressing the central normative significance of political obligation in thinking about the modern state. This is a serious mistake. Hume addressed himself directly to the question of political obligation, but his argument was predicated upon a prior reconfiguration of our thinking about the nature, role and power of philosophy. In coming to appreciate this prior reconfiguration, in particular via a re-examination of Hume’s indirect engagement with Locke’s earlier juridical political theory, we can properly appreciate Hume as advancing a radically innovative theory of political obligation. What emerges is the possibility of a theory of the state without sovereignty. As well as thereby revealing Hume to be a major and highly original post-Hobbesian theorist of the state, we are invited to consider whether present political theory would do better by adopting Hume’s recommended philosophical reconceptualization. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Research was undertaken with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Cambridge Prince Consort and Thirlwall prize
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