Hume and the Concept of Utility

This paper discusses David Hume’s concept of utility, which describes the development of a general concept of justice that is rooted in the relative equity between members of a society.

The concept of utility, as developed by David Hume in An Enquiry Concerning the Principals of Morals, is about the evolution of a general concept of justice, based on the relative equity that does (or should) exist between members of society. The concept of justice is only one facet that arises out of Hume’s idea of utility. In short, what Hume is alluding to, is a kind of societal muscle that comes into use out of need, and becomes strong through use.

Hume starts with a very simple concept, the idea that justice as we have come to recognize it, is not a function of one person …