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Hume Studies

Volume 46, Issue 1/2, April/November 2020

Ian Cruise
Pages 101-119

Hume’s Account of the Scope of Justice

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 step- ping stone on the way to seeing Hume’s theory of justice as a genuine competitor with the other dominant theories of justice in the philosophical literature.