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POLITENESS, A PLURALITY OF INTERESTS AND THE PUBLIC REALM: HUME ON THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS

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Abstract:

This article argues that David Hume's essay 'Of the Liberty of the Press' points to significant elements of his conception of the public realm and, in particular, his thoughts on the nature and importance of political discourse. Hume saw the opposition of interests as both a key constitutional support and a potential source of faction and fanaticism. His account of politeness suggests an important means through which a free press might improve the quality of public discourse such that the educative facet of discourse and, what I have termed, its messy facet, could be united towards maintaining the constitutional balance, the latter by providing a forum for the opposition of interests and the former by deflating factional bigotry.

Keywords: British constituion; David Hume; interests; liberty of the press; politeness; public realm; republicanism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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