The Scottish Enlightenment, unintended consequences and the science of man

Smith, C. (2009) The Scottish Enlightenment, unintended consequences and the science of man. Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 7(1), pp. 9-28. (doi: 10.3366/E1479665108000304)




It is a commonplace that the writers of eighteenth century Scotland played a key role in shaping the early practice of social science. This paper examines how this ‘Scottish’ contribution to the Enlightenment generation of social science was shaped by the fascination with unintended consequences. From Adam Smith's invisible hand to Hume's analysis of convention, through Ferguson's sociology, and Millar's discussion of rank, by way of Robertson's View of Progress, the concept of unintended consequences pervades the writing of the period. The paper argues that the idea of unintended order shapes the understanding of the purpose of theoretical social science that emerges from the Scottish Enlightenment.

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:Journal of Scottish Philosophy
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1755-2001
Published Online:01 March 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 Edinburgh University Press
First Published:First published in Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7(1):9-28
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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