By Knud Haakonssen
Combining the equipment of the fashionable thinker with these of the historian of principles, Knud Haakonssen offers an interpretation of the philosophy of legislations which Adam Smith built out of - and partially based on - David Hume's thought of justice. whereas acknowledging that the impacts on Smith have been many and diverse, Dr Haakonssen means that the decisive philosophical one used to be Hume's research of justice in A Treatise of Human Nature and the second one Enquiry. He hence starts with an intensive research of Hume, from which he is going directly to express the philosophical originality of Smith's new kind of usual jurisprudence. while, he presents an over all examining of Smith's social and political suggestion, demonstrating in actual fact the precise hyperlinks among the ethical concept of the idea of ethical Sentiments, the Lectures on Jurisprudence, and the sociohistorical thought of The Wealth of countries. this can be the 1st complete research of Adam Smith's jurisprudence; it emphasizes its normative and significant functionality, and relates this to the mental, sociological, and histroical elements which hitherto have attracted such a lot cognizance. Dr Haakonssen is necessary of either in basic terms descriptivist and utilitarian interpretations of Smith's ethical and political philosophy, and demonstrates the implausibility of concerning Smith's view of historical past as pseudo-economic or 'materialist'.
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Extra resources for The Science of a Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith
T. 499-500) It is here disclosed that public interest comes in when Hume accounts for the moral quality of justice - a theory which we have yet to describe while private interest is reaffirmed as the force behind the origin of justice. All these occasional tensions between Hume's evolutionary theory of justice and various rationalistic ideas do, I think, in the end stem from the difficulty I mentioned at the outset : n on the one hand, Hume can only recognize justice as justice in the form of absolutely general rules, for if there were any exceptions the system would break down.
One of Hume's finest examples of such revaluation in the light of improved knowledge is the case of luxury : Luxury, or a refinement of the pleasures and conveniences of life, had long been supposed the source of every corruption in government, and the immediate cause Utility and natural justice 39 of faction, sedition, civil wars, and the total loss of liberty It was an obj e ct of declamation to all satirists, and severe moralists. Those, who prove, or attempt to prove, that such refinements rather tend to the increase of i ndustry, civil ity, and arts regulate anew our moral as well as political sentimen ts, and represent, as laudable or innocent, what had formerly been regarded as pernicious and blameable.
This apparently implies that just behaviour is what is left when injustice is ruled out. Justice, so to speak, is a negative virtue and ' We may often fulfil all the rules of justice by sitting still and doing nothing ', as Smith was later to express the idea. Only when justice is done under difficult circumstances do we directly and actively approve of it as more than the absence of injustice. This negative form of the rules of justice means that, in a way, they say something only about what is not to be done - don't encroach on anybody else's property ; don't break promises, etc.