AbstractAdam Ferguson's interest in the decline of civilisations and the concomitant onset of political corruption is linked to his doubts about the benefits of progress and industrial expansion. For this reason, it is commonly suggested that Ferguson's work represents the first sustained critique of capitalism and market society based on the detection of alienation effects and a theory of class exploitation. Marx himself quoted Ferguson approvingly, acknowledging his debt to the latter's insightful critique of modernity and industrial expansion. Yet Ferguson's failure to provide any practical clues as to how corruption could be prevented is at odds with the general tone of his writing; indeed, it has led to charges of inconsistency and moral dereliction on his part. This paper seeks to explain Ferguson's omission by aligning his conservatism with key aspects of his social thought, namely his prior commitments to Stoic-Christianity and the theory of spontaneous generation.
Proceedings of the Australasian Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2001, Parliament House, Brisbane : pp. 37-42