The Science of a Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of by Knud Haakonssen

By Knud Haakonssen

Combining the equipment of the fashionable thinker with these of the historian of rules, Knud Haakonssen offers an interpretation of the philosophy of legislations which Adam Smith constructed out of - and partially in accordance with - David Hume's conception of justice. whereas acknowledging that the affects 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 as a result starts with a radical research of Hume, from which he is going directly to exhibit the philosophical originality of Smith's new type of normal jurisprudence. even as, he offers an over all examining of Smith's social and political inspiration, demonstrating sincerely the precise hyperlinks among the ethical conception of the idea of ethical Sentiments, the Lectures on Jurisprudence, and the sociohistorical conception of The Wealth of countries. this is often the 1st complete research of Adam Smith's jurisprudence; it emphasizes its normative and important functionality, and relates this to the mental, sociological, and histroical facets which hitherto have attracted so much awareness. 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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Only when the public interest is out of the picture, ' where the society is ready to perish from extreme necessity ',123 can other moral and non-moral evaluations replace justice. When is an action just, according to Hume ? The simple psychological answer is, when it is the expression of a character trait which on the whole has a tendency to be useful as a means towards another person's interests which we can appreciate through sympathy. But the circumstances under which this sympathy can operate is the really important and interesting thing.

We readily forget, that the designs, and projects, and views of men are principles as necessary in their operation as heat and cold, moist and dry : But taking them to be free and entirely our own, 'tis usual for us to set them in opposition to the other principles of nature. (T. 474) In other words, Hume invokes his methodological determinismH to say that although justice and the like are artificial phenomena, because they are brought about through the intervention of men's rational powers, they are yet securely within the orbit of the natural world, because the activity of the rational powers can in itself be explained by means of natural causes.

For instance; the expression of a reso­ lution is not commonly suppos'd to be obligatory; and we cannot readily conceive how the making use of a certain form. of words shou'd be able to cause any material difference. Here, therefore, we feign a new act of the mind, which we call the willing an obligation; and on this we suppose the morality to depend. {T. 5 2 3 ; first italics mine}'loa If we draw on what we know from the case of justice, we can put the Two difficulties 35 followin g in terpretation upon this.

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