The paper offers a critical review of the social contract theory proposed by four leading representatives of Scottish Enlightenment: David Hume, Henry Home (Lord Kames), Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson. The views of those thinkers on the origin of the state order differed from those proposed by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke or Samuel Pufendorf. The eighteenth century Scottish philosophers generally rejected the theory that abandonment of the pipotetic state of nature and introduction of the civil government resulted simply from a conscious universal agreement. Hume was the first to criticise the theory of social contract, popular in Scotland in the first half of the 18th century, and opposed Locke's concept of conditional obedience which was strictly related to the theory of contract and natural rights. The other three philosophers, although they did not repudiate the concept of a modern approach to law and nature and even criticised Hume for his 'conventionisation' of the virtue of justice proposed by Hobbes, had nevertheless adopted and continued Hume's 'historical' or 'empirical' approach when analysing the beginnings of the political power. In their deliberations they also accounted for the role of unintentional and evolutionary processes, indicating that civil and political institutions are not merely a result of a conscious decision of a legislator, but are rather a product of a long term, gradual improvement, and an effect of numerous modifications and adaptations to the needs, expectations, but also limited possibilities of subsequent generations. This approach, in its most developed form as proposed by Ferguson, was in clear opposition to the earlier concept of contractual solutions.
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