Joel Landis: Hume on Political Parties

Recent JMC fellow, Joel Landis, has an article in APSR on David Hume and political partisanship. Joel is ABD at the University of California, Davis, where he studies political theory and American politics, and is writing his dissertation on “David Hume on the Psychology and Nature of Political Party.”


Whither Parties? Hume on Partisanship and Political Legitimacy

By Joel Landis


Abstract: Recent work by party scholars reveals a widening gap between the normative ideals we set out for political parties and the empirical evidence that reveals their deep and perhaps insurmountable shortcomings in realizing these ideals. This disjunction invites us to consider the perspective of David Hume, who offers a theory of the value and proper function of parties that is resilient to the pessimistic findings of recent empirical scholarship. I analyze Hume’s writings to show that the psychological experience of party informs the opinions by which governments can be considered legitimate. Hume thus invites us to consider the essential role parties might play in securing legitimacy as that ideal is practiced or understood by citizens, independent of the ideal understandings of legitimacy currently being articulated by theorists. My analysis contributes to both recent party scholarship and to our understanding of the role of parties in Hume’s theory of allegiance.

Get access at Cambridge University Press >>



Joel Landis photoJoel Landis is a graduate student in the department of political science at University of California, Davis, where he studies political theory and American politics. He is currently finishing his dissertation, “David Hume on the Psychology and Nature of Political Party,” under the direction of Professor John T. Scott, and he expects to complete it by this summer. Joel has another paper currently under review, titled, “The Praises of Modernity: Hume and Machiavelli on Founders, Factions, and Faiths.” He has taught Introduction to Political Theory at UC Davis, and has been a teaching assistant in a wide range of classes, including Plato and Mill, Judicial Politics, Social Contract Theory, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Introduction to American Politics.

Learn more about Joel at his UC Davis Profile >>

Download his CV >>



Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.