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Ferguson, Adam (1723–1816)

Adam Ferguson was among the most original and important thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment. He, together with Adam Smith and David Hume, contributed to shaping the philosophical underpinnings of British liberalism. Whereas Smith's contributions consisted mainly in examinations of the mechanism by which wealth is created and distributed, and Hume's lay in offering a theory of jurisprudence distinct from older notions of natural law, Ferguson's work was primarily in the area of sociology and conjectural history.

Adam Ferguson was born in Perthshire, the youngest son of the minister of the parish. After having attended his local parish school and the grammar school at Perth, Ferguson was enrolled in the University of St. Andrews in 1738, where he read classics. Some 4 years later, at the age ...

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