The Essential David Hume

Printer-friendly version

The Essential David Hume includes a new book, accompanying website and animated videos, which spotlight 18th century philosopher David Hume, a key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment and one of the earliest and most unapologetic defenders of commercial society.

Published by the Fraser Institute, the book (authored by James R. Otteson, professor of business ethics at the University of Notre Dame) provides an overview of Hume’s key insights on free trade, commercial society and government debt.

Born in Scotland in 1711, Hume attended the University of Edinburgh but did not complete a degree. For most of his adult life, he was an independent scholar and writer as his religious skepticism thwarted his attempts at a university career.

In 1739, Hume released his most famous book, A Treatise of Human Nature, widely considered to be one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy.

He was an early advocate of free trade, including between people in different countries. He also warned that government debt allows politicians to provide benefits to present-day voters at the expense of the next generation, and that debt can threaten a country’s sovereignty if foreigners finance the borrowing.

Hume died in Edinburgh in 1776 at the age of 65.

More from this study

Subscribe to the Fraser Institute

Get the latest news from the Fraser Institute on the latest research studies, news and events.