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Happening on “Polished Society”: Towards a Theory of Progress and Corruption in the writings of Adam Ferguson and David Hume

Alexa Stanger

As two of the most important philosophical thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume and Adam Ferguson wrote formative texts in the philosophical discourse of modernity. Witnessing the emergence of commercial society and constitutional governments, both thinkers saw the classical republican model of politics, with its teleological bent and emphasis on cultivating the proper function of humans, as obsolete in the context of the commercial world. Neither civic virtue nor a pursuit of the proper function of humanity could explain the emergence of modern society—nor could they explain how commercial society might progress (1). In a sharp contrast to ancient philosophy, Hume and Ferguson realized the importance of locating their philosophy within a historical context. Even if the chief role of history is to serve as a record of the virtues or practices that have historically proved to be beneficial, Hume and Ferguson’s application of history provides a new prism through which people’s judgement might be filtered, introducing the space for a theory of progress. Indeed, the notion of humanity’s ability to progress, if not a belief in the inevitability of progress itself, is integral to both writers and to Enlightenment thought: “polished society,” where the full flourishing of the arts and sciences might be realised, was the logical progression of human society from its “rude” origins (2). The newfound importance ascribed to wealth, manners, and freedom meant that the ancient formulations of moral and civic virtue, such as those found in Plato’s writings, had to be re-evaluated in the context of the modern state. Nevertheless, Ferguson retains some notion of Classical teleology in his republicanism, a point where he diverges from Hume, in what Fania Oz-Salzberger describes as a “theory of commercial modernity with classical-republican linch- pins” (3). Where Hume has endless praise for the merits of modern society, Ferguson holds significant reservations. Hume’s vision of progress contains both a moral and a material character whereas Ferguson fears a deep tension between these two forces. Often neglected in Hume’s shadow, Ferguson is cast as the pessimistic commentator on bourgeois society, “a bemused, perplexed and rather worried observer of the kind of Civil Society which he sees emerging” (4). He sees the dark underside of commercial society that, whilst demonstrating how society has progressed from its primitive predecessors, might also plant the seeds of its corruption. In reading these two philosophers alongside one another, we might come to a better understanding of how the same philosophical current creates room for a theory of progress, a shining optimism in the path that industrialisation laid before human society, whilst retaining a sober skepticism of what might lie beneath the polish. An inquiry into Hume’s concept of human nature provides the basis for under- standing how polished society might arise and how this society might subsequently progress. His methodology thus deftly engages a set of timeless observations, namely those pertaining to human nature, within the context of humankind’s historical development. Today, “polished society” might be understood as a narrow, elitist notion of the values society should nurture, though in the Scottish Enlightenment this term referred to qualities of “polish” as an indispensable quality of civilized life and the foundation for progress in all aspects of society, not limited to politics but extending into art, religion, even the built environment. Hume famously declared that “reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions,” arguing that in spurring an agent to act, the feelings the action provokes surpass any rational analysis of outcomes (5). However, Hume arguably overstates his point: reason is not entirely removed from the equation when people assess whether or not to act. In fact, there is a significant level of rational exercise at work in the self-reflective process where people evaluate the sentiments attached to a certain action—an exercise introduced in Hume’s philosophy by his concept of justice. It is “the sense of virtue [...] deriv’d from reason,” that facilitates a self-reflective process that corrects people’s natural near-sightedness (where the “strongest attention is confin’d to [oneself]”) in the interests of longer-term societal preservation (6). Hume thus strikes a necessary balance between rationality and sentiment in informing how a people have tempered their passion-directed actions as a result of living in society (7). More pertinent to an understanding of progress in Hume’s philosophy is his notion of humankind as fundamentally self-interested yet partially benevolent. Hume dismisses the Hobbesian state of nature as pure fiction. As Hume conceives the individual as being primarily directed by sentiment, the notion of human character as fundamentally sympathetic arises. The Humean individual is depicted as standing at the hub of a network of social relationships, and it is through assessment of how one’s action might not only be received by the individual themselves, but also by those around them that leads to moral sympathy in Hume’s formulation. This sympathetic construction of human nature gives rise to another concept in Hume’s philosophy: the “partial benevolence” of humanity (8). Hume sees self-interest, albeit attuned to how this self-interest might complement the broader interests of society, as the chief director of human action: “this avidity alone, of acquiring goods and possessions for ourselves and our nearest friends, is insatiable, perpetual, universal, and directly destructive of society” (9). Although he indicates here how this self-interest might initially appear destructive and all-consuming, the consideration of the interests of “nearest friends” expands self-interest beyond the purely selfish. Unselfish self-interest is possible; though self-interest begins with an individual’s attention on their personal needs, awareness of the interests of close friends tempers this selfishness. The balancing of myopic focus on the self with the interests of an individual’s associates foreshadows the idea of partial benevolence, where a concern for the interests of one’s associates pulls at humankind’s naturally sympathetic imagination and shapes how closely one chooses to follow their self-interest. Partial benevolence becomes a check for this insatiability, channelling it into a useful form that motivates individuals to engage in an active life in order to satisfy their appetites. As people find a middle ground between self-interest and its blind pursuit, they make space for progress in the realm of polished society, be that commerce or the arts, whilst also solidifying the “bands of affection” that are necessary to the preservation of society. Consequently, these self-interested bands of affection might actually serve the public interest in the long-term through ensuring that an individual remains in society but also set the wheels of progress in motion. Similar to Hume, Ferguson also recognizes self-interest as a fundamental characteristic of human nature and emphasises the associational aspect of polished society, whereby humans inevitably interact and largely cooperate with one an- other in order to live. It is the “motive of interest” that “animate[s] the pursuits, or direct[s] the measures, of ordinary men” (10). Indeed, it is this associational tendency of humanity that Ferguson fears commercial society, overrun with the vicious effects of capitalism, will ultimately undermine. However, this notion of association—that a human is influenced by the relations he draws between himself and their fellow person—is extended to include not only interpersonal relations but also intergenerational and even intergovernmental ones: “man proceed[s] from one form of government to another, by easy transitions [...] the seeds of every form are lodged in human nature” (11). It is perfectly natural that one form of human society should build upon its predecessors’ society, conveying a linear progression of history in Ferguson’s political thought. The tendency of governments and human associations to build upon one another is a product of what Ferguson characterises as the tendency of “nations [to] stumble upon establishments” (12). He claims that it is not in human nature to “foresee” but rather to “know by experience” precisely what form of government might arise (13). Ferguson argues that humans learn from history what actions are most conducive to a stable society, enabling them to dispense with the errors of the past and thus embark on the gradual advancement of society: one generation builds on another. In this way, the inevitability of progress, even if this does not bar the possibility of regress, is ingrained in Ferguson’s philosophy through his view of history as a linear process. In fact, one might argue that what Ferguson sees as the failure of primitive societies is a prerequisite for his philosophy on the emergence of polished society. In his Essay on the History of Civil Society, Ferguson writes “Nations, which in later periods of their history became eminent for civil wisdom and justice, had, perhaps, in a former age, paroxysms of lawless disorder [...] The very policy by which they arrived at their degree of national felicity, was devised as a remedy for outrageous abuse” (14). Ferguson shows that in such national development, there was an intentional attempt on the part of their lawmakers to restructure their society in view of redressing past failings and avoiding their repetition. It is through understanding past mistakes, inquiring into why nations have failed, that humans might work toward progress. It is worth not- ing that Ferguson does not see history as a grand narrative documenting humans as passive, but sees history as directly driven by human action: “the attainment of one end is but the beginning of a new pursuit” (15). History is thus in part driven by humans’ insatiable self-interest, which requires them to be endlessly engaged in the workings of society, giving them an investment in their society that will be conducive to its progression. The social nature of human character, the fact that one is born into society and actively creates and participates in society’s custom, helps us understand the role of custom in Hume’s philosophy, which can then be applied to a theory of progress. Hume makes clear the importance of custom in explaining why certain values have been retained in human association and how these values shape our moral judgement: “each century has its peculiar mode in conducting business; and men, guided more by custom than by reason, follow, without inquiry, the manners which are prevalent in their own time” (16). The crucial role of custom in shaping human action becomes intuitive when connected to Hume’s concept of the natural sociability of humankind and his construction of human society. Furthermore, Hume’s understanding of custom helps resolve a potential logical break in his philosophy regarding the space for progress. If Hume’s philosophy emphasises the importance of sentiment, with all its changeability in directing human action and morality, one might question how progression can arise, when this notion implies a degree of consistency and gradual change. It is the role of sentiment in conjunction with history that turns these inconsistent actions of human nature into a pattern of action that we name custom. This custom, in turn, directs future human action while remaining a product of what was originally deemed moral by human sentiment: “habit soon consolidates what other principles of human nature had imperfectly founded,” and in this way history acts as a stabilising force (17). Although both Hume and Ferguson historicize human nature, they do not go so far as Hegel’s dialectic, where human nature itself is altered by human action in the unfolding of history and the synthesis of conflicting human interactions (18). In fact, Hume holds a rather conservative view of the influence of history on human action, stating that history’s “chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature” (19). This statement is potentially misleading if the “constancy” of human nature is misinterpreted as the predictability of human action: history does not serve only to erode difference and show the universal properties of human nature but also shows how these properties arose by accident but were retained as a result of their demonstrated usefulness in practice. In this conception of a human nature informed by historical events, Alix Cohen observes a malleable element of human judgement that overlays the selfish quality of Hume’s formulation of human nature, which is “influenced by society and political structures” (20). In fact, Hume emphasises the inconstancy of human nature: “‘tis difficult for the mind, when actuated by any passion, to confine itself to that passion alone, without any change or variation. Human nature is too inconstant to admit of any such regularity. Changeableness is essential to it” (21). It is precisely this inconstancy in human nature, unable to predict the workings of the imagination, that allows for history to enter onto the scene. By replacing reason with sentiment as the primary motivator for human action, Hume renders humankind susceptible to the influence of convention in directing one’s actions, because people realise that their actions have consequences and can predict how their actions might be received. This is not to say that a person becomes subject to, nor even the “slave of” passions, but rather that in critical self-reflection of how to direct their actions, the person is profoundly influenced by the passions that might arise from society’s regard for their actions (22). This is the necessary effect of Hume’s formulation of society as a network of relations and exposes a dynamism in human nature conducive to progress. Having demonstrated how both Ferguson and Hume conceive of humans as naturally social, influenced in their actions by custom and the “lessons of history,” one might now consider where a theory of progress fits into their philosophies. It has been established that both thinkers regarded modern, commercial society as the most artistically and technologically advanced form of society, where the arts and sciences flourish as never before (23). Furthermore, in preserving the beneficial consequences of human action as custom, the role of history makes room for the idea that commercial society tends toward building on such historical principles for overall betterment. Hume’s notion of justice as the safeguarding of property rights connects political stability with commercial activity: commercial activity, along with humankind’s naturally self-interested disposition, compels people to establish as well as to adhere to the rules of justice so that they might enjoy the fruits of a collective labour. In this way, the progress of political society goes hand in hand with the progress of economic thought: “polished society,” therefore, manifests both civic and commercial advancement. Furthermore, Hume posits leading an active life as almost part of human nature, suggesting that economic progress is the logical corollary of his formulation of humanity; he claims that it is not only the love of the fruit of labour but also the occupation itself that produces pleasure on pursuing activity as opposed to idleness (24). It is this dual satisfaction that such labour produces, including a sentimental element elevated above a purely material interest, that demonstrates how human nature might guide societal progress. Work invigorates the mind such that humankind has a selfish interest in seeing industry and the arts flourish; a person’s natural predisposition towards activity and commitment to their work thereby necessarily entails an aggregate progress. In considering the general progress of society, the notion of moral progress (or at least the evolution of tastes) also plays a constitutive role. In commercial society, Hume argues that “the possessor has also a secondary satisfaction in riches arising from the love and esteem he acquires by them” (25). The love of this secondary satisfaction gives rise to the potentially destructive human greed in commercial society that Ferguson so feared, but it nonetheless provides an impetus for humans to engage in commercial activity, such as trade and manufacturing. These secondary satisfactions deriving from said “love and esteem” (sentiments connected to a judgement of character and reputation) demonstrate how morality might also play a role in an assessment of economic progress. This sympathetic character of man- kind gives rise to these feelings of love and esteem, which are innately associated with the acquisition of wealth and status. In this way, it might be expected that the progression of morals, or at least an evolution of tastes, accompanies or even acts as a precondition for economic progress. However, an evolution of tastes does not necessarily constitute an evolution of morality in itself and Hume is noticeably conservative in his discussion of humankind’s capacity to attain “improvement of judgement.” He states that people “cannot change their natures [...] all they can do is to change their situation,” thus implying that moral advancement is not a consequence of societal progress, at least in the form of industrialisation or greater commercialisation (26). For better or worse, in his construction of moral sentiment as a reflexive phenomenon, Hume sees the cultivation of moral sentiment as secondary to the progress of economics, arts and even politics. Conditioned by custom and the perceptions that an individual holds of his fellow people, moral sentiment cannot actively determine progress but rather is shaped by it. Indeed, it is at this juncture that Ferguson comes into most direct conflict with Hume’s philosophy, as he resoundingly argues that moral progress is not a necessary consequence of societal progress. In fact, he argues that even in polished society, human nature is fundamentally unchanged, although such change would guard against its corruptive tendencies, such as greed: “there have been very few examples of states, who have, by arts or policy, improved the original dispositions of human nature, or endeavoured, by wise and effectual precautions, to prevent its corruption” (27). He verbosely writes of the destructive effects of commercial society, exposing people to the pursuit of wealth within the new commercial machinery of modernity without regard to their actions’ broader societal impacts. The “continued subdivision of the mechanical arts” in the progress of commerce heralds the emergence of an atomised society, where “the sources of wealth are laid open” and humankind, “ignorant of all human affairs [...] may contribute to the preservation and enlargement of their commonwealth, without making its interest an object of their regard or attention” (28). This introduces the notion that commercial society is the crucible where progress gains momentum but also paradoxically creates the corruptive forces that cause its decline: “The mighty engine which we suppose to have formed society, only tends to set its members at variance, or to continue their intercourse after the bands of affection are broken” (29). Ferguson argues that it is only humanity’s natural interest in self-preservation that, with re- flection and foresight, might lead humanity to temper their pursuit of gain so as to mitigate the total destruction of society. It is when these interests stray too far from national interest that society is rendered vulnerable, a risk that Ferguson sees as heightened in commercial society. However, where this interest takes the form of “enlightened interest,” humankind’s superior nature is capable of moderating this raw self-interest to orient it towards achieving something more elevated, namely the “ambition or the desire of something higher than is possessed at present” (30). Introducing an almost normative element to the object of natural self-interest, Ferguson’s philosophy draws closer to his classical predecessors and opens up a space for progress. Ferguson seems to believe that ambition, which might be thought of as the commercial variant of Aristotle’s drive for the proper function of humans, drives progress in society. However, there is undoubtedly a dark side to this ambition, which must be modulated. In order to protect society from unfettered ambition, Ferguson draws further on a quasi-teleological argument. Ferguson locates the seeds of corruption in humankind’s tendency to value material gain—either for the gain itself or the notions of esteem associated with the possession of great wealth—above other virtues more aligned with the public interest. The danger of polished society is this redefinition of virtue along commercial lines: the transferral of “the idea of perfection from the character to the equipage,” such that a pursuit of “virtue” leads to the desire to dominate one’s fellow citizen, subjugating the public interest to the private (31). Although this change in the concept of virtue is deeply troubling for Ferguson, he nevertheless admits that the drive towards this new “perfection of equipage” is a powerful incentive for people to engage in politics, stating that “the desires of preferment and profit in the breast of the citizen, are the motives from which he is excited to enter on public affairs” (32). This introduces a contra- diction in Ferguson’s work. His solution for retrieving bourgeois society from a cycle of progress and decline is to encourage “active political citizenry” among the populace, preventing the spirit of “servility,” which ironically accompanies the rise of industry, from also allowing the rise of tyranny (33). This argument for active political engagement has clear Aristotelian undertones, which become even more explicit in Ferguson’s solution for commercial corruption. In his view, the hope for bourgeois society lies in active political participation, ideally by the individual who might orient their actions to the public interest. In doing so, Ferguson believes the individual might “educate” the lower classes through leading by example and demonstrating how civic virtue might be combined with power and wealth. Such a politician is necessary for preventing public life from being perceived as “a scene for the gratification of mere vanity, avarice, and ambition” instead “furnishing the best opportunity for a just and a happy engagement of the mind and the heart” (34). However, if people enter politics out of purely ambitious motives (themselves the products of polished society’s new idea of perfection) can this ideal politician exist in reality? It is not ambition itself that causes problems, but how the object of this ambition might conflict with the responsibilities of public office. Ferguson makes some attempt to resolve this tension in proposing a cyclical progress of society, though this is also potentially at odds with his linear notion of history, writing that “when human nature appears in the utmost state of corruption, it has actually begun to reform” (35). Although Hume does not fear the corruption and decline of commercial society as Ferguson does, Hume’s theory of justice indicates a conservative view of the extent to which society might progress, particularly in the realm of political innovation. Where Ferguson casts conflict as a means through which political society might develop, stating that “the virtues of men have shone most during their struggles,” Hume strongly guards against rebellion except in the most desperate case (36). In order to prevent a habit of disobedience from arising, Hume argues that rebellion should only be “the last refuge [...] when the public is in the highest danger from violence and tyranny” (37). Since resistance may only be countenanced in the most dire situations, Hume appears to discourage political innovation, at least where it risks rebellion. Recalling how political progress and economic progress appear to go hand in hand in his philosophy, one might wonder whether he foresees a limit on societal progress. In the interests of preserving stability, Hume even discourages political innovation on the part of the wise individual: to “try experiments merely upon the credit of supposed argument and philosophy, can never be the part of a wise magistrate, who will bear a reverence to what carries the marks of age”—he will cater towards societal consensus (38). In this way, individual action is circumscribed, revealing a disconnect between progress at the individual and societal levels, even questioning the ability of the “wise” individual to drive societal progress. One might wonder what the benefits of moral improvement are if the finest person must cater to the most vulgar elements of society. Hume’s philosophy certainly allows for such moral progress but perhaps only to a point, which he regards as the commercialised bourgeois society that he found himself living in and has endless praise for (39). It is almost impossible to separate human nature, morality, and the role of his- tory from Hume’s and Ferguson’s theories of progress. Humankind’s historical context and indeed the level of refinement of the society that humans live in determines the customs that will shape their moral judgement. Being fundamentally self-interested and motivated by sentiment, it follows that people’s actions are directly influenced by the level of civilization manifest in their surroundings. One might worry that basing the promise of societal progress on the power of humankind’s sympathetic nature to direct their actions towards a public interest is inherently unstable, given the inconstancy of their passions. However, it is possible that an attempt to correct this inconstancy would be fruitless considering how societal progress changes what humanity considers virtuous or part of the pub- lic interest. In fact, Oz-Salzberger writes that “wealth, in the modern European state, could no longer be opposed to virtue; ‘virtue’ itself was being transformed into a civil rather than civic, moral framework” (40). It is this transformation of the notion of virtue, produced by commercial society, that Ferguson fears will lead to corruption, both on a moral and societal level. What is perhaps most innovative to the theory of progress that evolves in both Ferguson’s and Hume’s writings is the role of history. In their philosophies, history does not provide a blueprint for how society must progress nor is it deterministic in how the interactions of human societies might grease the wheels of history towards a more polished, liberated end. Rather, history is useful as a sociological instrument for demonstrating how beneficial practices that humans have “stumbled upon” come to be a part of their nature, without fundamentally changing their character. History does not determine morality nor human identity as such but rather provides an extra layer for understanding how human judgement has evolved and why certain customs have gained such power. In fact, history might safeguard societal progress against decline through preserving political wisdom that has been derived from history, encouraging society to learn from humanity’s past successes and errors. As both authors were writing in response to such historical moments as the English Civil War, it would be almost illogical to dismiss history’s role in informing their ideas of progress and corruption, especially when so much of what they wrote was being informed by the lessons of these historical moments—practical manifestations of how people’s actions might be shaped by history.


1 See Christopher J. Berry’s The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment for a more in-depth analysis of how Scottish Enlightenment thinkers understood “commercial society”, a society that is neither polity nor clan but contains governments and institutions systematic in their division of labor. 2 John Varty’s essay elaborates on how Ferguson, Hume and other thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment formulated this idea of society’s progression from ‘primitive’ or ‘rude’ society’ to ‘civilized’ or ‘polished’ society. See John Varty, “Civic or Commercial? Adam Ferguson’s Concept of Civil Society,” Democratization 4, no. 1 (Spring 1997).

3 Fania Oz-Salzberger, “The Political Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment, edited by Alexander Broadie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003),168.

4 Ernest Gellner, Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Rivals, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1995), 62. 5 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature. Ed. L.A. Selby-Biggs, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 415.

6 Hume, Treatise, 496 and 488.

7 David Miller describes this balance between the purely rational and the purely sentimental in the formulation of moral judgements in Hume’s philosophy as ‘mitigated scepticism’ (David Miller, Philosophy and Ideology in Hume’s Political Thought, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 41.). 8 David Miller, Philosophy and Ideology, 107. 9 Hume, Treatise, 491-2.

10 Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 132.

11 Ferguson, Essay, 120.

12 Ibid, 119.

13 Ibid, 120.

14 Ibid, 230.

15 Ferguson, Essay, 205.

16 From Hume’s History of England, cited in Miller, Philosophy and Ideology, p. 103.

17 David Hume, “Of the Origin of Government,” Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, edited by E. F. Miller, (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1985), 39. 18 Hume states that ‘all plans of government, which suppose great reformation in the manners of mankind, are plainly imaginary,’ (“Idea of A Perfect Commonwealth”, Essays, p. 514). By contrast, Hegel sees human nature as contextual and integrally social. For Hegel, the human mind is “a living unity or system of processes”, and, most importantly, is “world-historical”. Stating that “man is what he does”, Hegel argues that human nature is inherently linked to human action. For more reading on Hegel’s dialectic and his understanding of human nature, see Chrisopher J. Berry, Hume, Hegel and Human Nature (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 1982). in particular 129-146.

19 From Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, cited in Miller, Philosophy and Ideology, 102.

20 Alix Cohen, “The Notion of Moral Progress in Hume’s Philosophy: Does Hume Have a Theory of Moral

Progress?”, Hume Studies, 26, no. 1 (April 2000), 110.

21 Hume, Treatise, 283. 22 Ibid, 415. 23 Miller, Philosophy and Ideology, 124.

24 Hume discusses this in “Of Refinement in the Arts,” Essays.

25 Hume, Treatise.

26 Hume, Treatise, 537.

27 Ferguson, Essay, 195.

28 Ibid, 173. The division of labour, rather than being a form of justice in its Classical formulation, allows for the pursuit of self-interest that does not necessarily contribute to the overall harmony of society. Thus, although such specialisation might enable a general progress in mechanical and commercial arts as each individual devotes. themselves, albeit out of self-interested motives, towards advancing their field of expertise, it also leads to the weakening of an individual’s allegiance to the wellbeing of his society as a whole. This effect is also bolstered by man’s natural tendency to subjugate long-term consequences in the view of short-term gain. 29 Ferguson cited in John Varty, “Civic or Commercial? Adam Ferguson’s Concept of Civil Society,” Democratization 4, no. 1 (Spring 1997), 35.

30 From Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, cited in Lisa Hill, “Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline,” History of Political Thought, vol. 18, no. 4 (Winter 1997), 679. 31 Ferguson, Essay, 239. 32 Ibid, 245. Indeed, Ferguson argues that ignoring this fact is a corruption in itself: ‘the pretended moderation assumed by the higher orders of men, has a fatal effect in the state.’ (Essay, 245). 33 Hill, “Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline,” 681.

34 Ferguson, Essay, 244.

35 Ibid, 278-9.

36 Ibid, 196.

37 Hume, “Of Passive Obedience,” Essays, 490.

38 Hume, “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth,” Essays, 512.

39 Hume indicates what this necessary balance might look like: ‘Some innovations must necessarily have place in every human institution; and it is happy where the enlightened genius of the age give these a direction to the side of reason, liberty, and justice: but violent innovations no individual is entitled to make. (“Of the Original Contract,” Essays, 477).

40 Oz-Salzberger, “The Political Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment,” 169.

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