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Ferguson, Adam (1723–1815)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DB029-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

Article Summary

Rarely mentioned by philosophers except as companion of David Hume and Adam Smith, Ferguson contributed a political consciousness to the moral philosophy of eighteenth-century Scotland. In An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), Ferguson used a comparative method to reflect on a commercial society distinguished by refined division of labour and to caution against its political dangers. With his intentionally elevated rhetoric he sought to counter his philosophical contemporaries’ analytical aloofness from the negative effects of the civility, commerce, security and critical philosophy they prized. Ferguson’s textbooks and Roman history deserve philosophical attention for their help with interpreting his distinctive social diagnosis of the liberal political constitution.

Citing this article:
Kettler, David. Ferguson, Adam (1723–1815), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DB029-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2022 Routledge.

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