Adam Ferguson and ethnocentrism in the science of man

Smith, C. (2013) Adam Ferguson and ethnocentrism in the science of man. History of the Human Sciences, 26(1), pp. 52-67. (doi: 10.1177/0952695112467027)

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The Scottish moral philosopher Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) is recognized as one of the founding fathers of sociology and social science more generally. This article examines his early ruminations on what has come to be seen as one of the most pressing methodological concerns for social science: the problem of ethnocentrism. The article explores Ferguson’s attempts to deal with this problem and his attempt to plot the relationship between empirical research, theory formation and normative moral judgement. It argues that Ferguson was well aware of the danger of cultural bias and that his understanding of moral science is marked by a concern that empirical and normative judgements are freed from the danger of bias.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Craig
Authors: Smith, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:History of the Human Sciences
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
Published Online:10 December 2012

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