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Adam Ferguson and the Idea of Civil SocietyMoral Science in the Scottish Enlightenment$
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Craig Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413275

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413275.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 03 December 2021

Civil Society and Civilisation

Civil Society and Civilisation

(p.149) 5 Civil Society and Civilisation
Adam Ferguson and the Idea of Civil Society

Craig Smith

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter makes the case for Ferguson as a partisan for civilisation and sees him not as a critic of modern commercial society, but rather as someone deeply aware of its fragility. The benefits of civilisation are wealth and freedom, and Ferguson defends both of them. The chapter argues that Ferguson’s theory of the evolution of nations and their institutions sits alongside his attempt to educate the virtuous gentlemen necessary to make the right decisions to maintain the benefits of wealthy and free societies. Ferguson’s theory of corruption is not nostalgic republicanism, but rather a clear-eyed analysis of the present situation in Hanoverian Britain.

Keywords:   Adam Ferguson, Civil Society, Civilisation, Law, Property, Commerce

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