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Ferguson’s “Invisible Hand”

The Theory of Spontaneous Order
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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives internationales d’histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 191)

Keywords

Private Property Invisible Hand Formal Government Human Design Spontaneous Order 
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References

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    By which is meant Cartesian rationalism. F.A. Hayek makes the following distinction between a post-and pre-Cartesian conception of reason: ‘To the medieval thinkers reason had meant mainly a capacity to recognise truth, especially moral truth, when they met it, rather than a capacity of deductive reasoning from explicit premises’. F.A. Hayek, ‘Kinds of Rationalism’, Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967, p 84.Google Scholar
  2. 624.
    According to Duncan Forbes, John Bernstein and Ian Ross, Ferguson was unlikely to have been influenced by the work of Vico. Duncan Forbes, ‘Scientific Whiggism: Adam Smith and John Millar’ Cambridge Journal, Vol.VI, 1954, pp.643–70, p. 658; Bernstein, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Idea of Progress’, p. 104; I. Ross, Foreword to R. Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987, p.ix.Google Scholar
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  129. 752.
    It has been suggested that Ferguson’s history contains ‘no tincture of the perfectibility thesis found in Comte or Godwin’. A. S. Skinner, ‘Adam Ferguson: The History of Civil Society’, Political Studies, Vol. 15, 1967, pp. 219–21, p. 220 For opponents of this reading (other than myself) see: John Veitch, ‘Philosophy in the Scottish Universities’, Mind, Vol. 2 (6) April, 1877, p. 217; Kettler, Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 122; Bernstein, ‘Ferguson and the Idea of Progress’, passim, and Pierce, ‘The Scottish Common Sense School’, pp. 142–3.Google Scholar
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