Hume's Account of the Scope of Justice

Hume Studies (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Hume’s account of the scope of justice, many think, is implausibly narrow, applying almost exclusively to respect for property rights. Such a view would indeed be highly objectionable because it would leave out of the scope of justice altogether requirements to keep our promises, obey the law, and refrain from threats and violence (among many others). I argue that Hume's theory of justice, properly understood, avoids this objection. And seeing how is instructive because once we understand his account correctly, we can appreciate its resources for offering attractive explanations of why a number of diverse phenomena fall within the scope of justice. Overcoming this challenge is a major stepping stone on the way to seeing Hume’s theory of justice as a genuine competitor with the other major theories of justice in the philosophical literature.
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Archival date: 2021-09-14
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