Hume without Spontaneous Order
The question whether it is possible to be both a Humean and a contractarian arises from the interpretation of Hume as a theorist of spontaneous order, a theory that is usually taken to be incompatible with contractarianism. I argue that this interpretation is unconvincing and anachronistic. The real reason why it is problematic to view Hume as a ... contractarian is not because he is proponent of spontaneous order, but because he is a virtue-ethicist. I argue that Hume adopted and elaborated on the natural law account of the origins of property as conventional, but provided a different and separate account of the obligation to respect property rights.
Original publication in
Rationality, markets, and morals: RMM 6 (2015), 26-38