David Hume and contractualism David Hume y el contractualismo uri icon


  • David Hume belonged to the consecuencialist philosophical tendency, in which is included utilitarianism. This tendency was opposed to the normativism philosophy, in which is enrolled contractualism. This article analyzes the critique made by David Hume, from the utilitarianism perspective, against contractualism. The major philosophers of contractualism are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Hume implemented three arguments in opposition to them: 1) historic: the social contract does not have any practical testing. Therefore it could not be presented as the foundation of the state; 2) philosophical: it is not the duty, but the interest that moves men to seek the formation of the political authority; 3) social: in the consciousness of the people, there is no trace of the social contract. Utilitarianism was one of the philosophical tendencies that finished the theoretical hegemony that contractualism had during the XVII and the XVIII centuries. Nonetheless from the historical and social point of view, the liberalization movements in many parts of the world, at that time, were inspired by contractualism. It means that from the theoretical point of view, utilitarianism, certainly, stressed the empirical origins of the state but not the rational justification of the political Authority. Hume was unable to understand the normative force that contractualism owns, which inspires human action.

Publication date

  • January 1, 2016