By L. J. Hume
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3 In setting out his understanding of sovereignty, Hobbes made it clear that the sovereign's exercise of the legislative function was what distinguished him from other elements in the state, and that legislation must displace adjudication as the primary function or the essence of government. 6 The last point meant that punishment and reward must be viewed in a utilitarian way as means of inducing obedience, not as retribution or an expression of community values or attitudes. He admitted that the law must be interpreted in the course of its administration but he insisted that the interpreter or judge must be authorized by the sovereign to perform that function.
70 It was then a short step from here to the discussion in The Wealth of Nations, which proceeded independently of the concept of police. At that point, or perhaps a little earlier on the publication of Steuart's Principles of Political Oeconomy, political economy had emancipated itself from police, and had succeeded or absorbed oeconomy. Steuart's book was published in 1767, at almost the same time as Catherine's Instructions; Smith's was not published until 1776. The Wealth of Nations made an immediate impact, and almost immediately began to win converts to the cause of freedom of international trade.
It accustomed people to the idea of delegated power, of power exercised on behalf of a superior and exercised on conditions laid down in precise terms by the superior. In this way it was available to form one of the intellectual foundations of hierarchy, when that was seen as one of the state's needs. The outcome of speculations about the relationship between law and its environment might be better described as incoherence rather than ambiguity. Sharply different views emerged, and although they were sometimes adopted by the same person there was little real prospect of harmonizing them.