David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (1):9-28 (2009)
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
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