Science and superstition: Hume and conservatism

Berry, C. (2011) Science and superstition: Hume and conservatism. European Journal of Political Theory, 10(2), pp. 141-155. (doi: 10.1177/1474885110395472)

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This article argues that to call Hume a conservative is a shorthand label that is at least insecure and at most a distortion. It is not claimed that the label is fanciful or without justification but the argument does serve to raise questions as to its accuracy once it is subject to further inspection and, consequently, to doubt its aptness or utility in capturing what is a key characteristic of Hume’s sociopolitical thought. This argument is constituted as follows. After some preliminary refinement of the topic, part I, in order to establish that the paper is not attacking a ‘straw-man’, identifies, by using Oakeshott as a benchmark, those aspects of Hume’s thought that most securely underwrite attributing the conservative label. Part II constructs an argument to render the conservative label insecure, by drawing attention to the case for Hume as a liberal. Part III outlines the grounds for the further claim that when Hume’s commitment to ‘science’ and his polemics against superstition, and other ‘chimerical’ practices and principles, are taken on board then the stronger case that the label is a distortion can be judged to have substance.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Berry, Professor Christopher
Authors: Berry, C.
Subjects:J Political Science > JC Political theory
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:European Journal of Political Theory
ISSN (Online):1741-2730

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