Scotland's 'science of man'

Broadie, A. (2015) Scotland's 'science of man'. In: Dunyach, J.-F. and Thomson, A. (eds.) The Enlightenment in Scotland: National and International Perspectives. Series: Oxford University Studies in Enlightenment. Voltaire Foundation: Oxford, pp. 85-105. ISBN 9780729411660

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Scotland's development of what David Hume termed the 'science of man', an empirical scientific investigation of human nature, was the country's greatest contribution to the wider Enlightenment. In this paper the science of man is defined, and its Scottish dimension is articulated. Four case studies are then presented, Adam Smith's concept of sympathy, Adam Ferguson's concept of the state of nature, Thomas Reid's concept of common sense, and finally Ferguson's practical political reply, in his 'Reflections previous to the establishment of a militia', (1756), to the Westminster parliament's defeat of the Scotch Militia Bill. It is argued that Ferguson's 'Reflections' constitutes a significant contribution to the Sccottish 'science of man' project.

Item Type:Book Sections (Other)
Keywords:science of man, David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Thomas Reid, Gavin Hamilton, sympathy, state of nature, common sense, militia
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Broadie, Professor Alexander
Authors: Broadie, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Publisher:Voltaire Foundation

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record