David Hume: Unwitting Cosmopolitan?

Edward W. Glowienka

About author

Dr. Edward W. Glowienka
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Carroll College
1601 N. Benton Ave.
Helena, MT 59625

E-mail: eglowienka@carroll.edu


If Hume is considered cosmopolitan in his ethics at all, he is said to be so through his anti-mercantilist approach to commerce. Prevailing commercial interpretations attribute to Hume a cosmopolitanism that is best described as instrumental and supervenient. I argue that Hume’s principles lead to a cosmopolitan ethic that is more demanding than commercial interpretations recognize. Hume’s cosmopolitanism is more than merely supervenient and its instrumentality is such that cosmopolitan regard becomes inseparable from healthy patriotic concern. I show sympathy and duty, not merely justice, central to Hume’s cosmopolitanism and address how Hume’s moderate cosmopolitanism might be enacted in society. I suggest Hume’s view can contribute to contemporary cosmopolitan discourse, aiding both those forms with which it is consonant and the practical ends of otherwise opposed, Kantian forms.

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