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Adam Ferguson and the Idea of Civil Society

Moral Science in the Scottish Enlightenment

Craig Smith

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Examines Adam Ferguson's philosophy, political theory and social thought in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment

Adam Ferguson, a friend of David Hume and Adam Smith, was among the leading Scottish Enlightenment figures who worked to develop a science of man. He created a methodology for moral science that combined empirically based social theory with normative moralising. He was among the first in the English-speaking world to make use of the terms civilization, civil society and political science.

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List of Ferguson’s Works

1. Introduction

2. Moral Science

3. Moral Philosophy

4. Moral Education

5. Civil Society and Civilisation

6. Civilised Warfare


About the Author

Craig Smith is Adam Smith Lecturer in the Scottish Enlightenment in the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Glasgow.


A penetrating analysis of Ferguson's moral thought (including science, philosophy, and education), building on a mastery of the primary and secondary literature and a commitment to treat Ferguson's body of writing comprehensively and on its own highly eclectic terms.

- Richard B. Sher, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University

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