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This collection of essays provides a comprehensive view of the economic
thought of the Scottish Enlightenment. Organized as a chronological account of
the rise and progress of political economy in eighteenth-century Scotland, each
chapter discusses the way in which the moral and economic improvement of the
Scottish nation became a common concern.
Contributors not only explore the economic discourses of David Hume,
James Steuart and Adam Smith but also consider the neglected economic writ-
ings of Andrew Fletcher, Robert Wallace, Francis Hutcheson, William
Robertson, John Millar and Dugald Stewart. This book addresses the question
of how these economic writings interacted with moral, political and historical
arguments of the time and shows how contemporary issues related to the union
with England, natural jurisprudence, classical republicanism, and manners and
civilization all contained an economic dimension. Key chapters include:
• The ancient–modern controversy in the Scottish Enlightenment
• The ‘Scottish Triangle’ in the shaping of political economy: David Hume,
Sir James Steuart and Adam Smith
• Civilization and history in Lord Kames and William Robertson
• Adam Smith in Japan
This view of the origin of economic science in Britain is markedly different from
traditional accounts and will be of interest to economic, political and social

Tatsuya Sakamoto is Professor of the History of Social Thought in the
Faculty of Economics at Keio University, Japan. His publications on David
Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment include David Hume’s Civilized Society:
Industry, Knowledge and Liberty, which was awarded the Suntory Prize for Social
Sciences and Humanities (1996) and the Japan Academy Prize (2001).
Hideo Tanaka is Professor of the History of Social Thought in the Faculty of
Economics at Kyoto University, Japan. His numerous books and articles on the
Scottish Enlightenment thinkers include Studies in the Intellectual History of the Scottish
Enlightenment and Transformation in the Science of Society: From Natural Law to Social Science.
The Rise of Political Economy
in the Scottish Enlightenment
Routledge Studies in the History of Economics
1 Economics as Literature
Willie Henderson
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Edited by Ian Steedman
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Steve Fleetwood
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Tony Aspromourgos
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Albert Jolink
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A study in language, epistemology and mistaken identities
Michel Verdon
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Robert W. Dimand and Mary Ann Dimand
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Sandra Peart
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Ajit K. Dasgupta
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Economics and Economists in Britain, 1930–1970
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Critical Essays
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Selected Papers of Allyn Abbott Young
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Markets and virtue
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31 The Foundations of Laissez-faire
The Economics of Pierre de Boisguilbert
Gilbert Faccarello
32 John Ruskin’s Political Economy
Willie Henderson
33 Contributions to the History of Economic Thought
Essays in honour of R.D.C. Black
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34 Towards an Unknown Marx
A Commentary on the Manuscripts of 1861–63
Enrique Dussel
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36 Economics as the Art of Thought
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37 The Decline of Ricardian Economics
Politics and Economics in Post-Ricardian theory
Susan Pashkoff
38 Piero Sraffa
His Life, Thought and Cultural Heritage
Alessandro Roncaglia
39 Equilibrium and Disequilibrium in Economic Theory
The Marshall–Walras Divide
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40 The German Historical School
The Historical and Ethical Approach to Economics
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Essays in Honor of Samuel Hollander
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42 Piero Sraffa’s Political Economy
A Centenary Estimate
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43 The Contribution of Joseph Schumpeter to Economics
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49 Physicians and Political Economy
Six Studies of the Work of Doctor-economists
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50 The Spread of Political Economy and the Professionalisation of
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Massimo Augello and Marco Guidi
51 Historians of Economics and Economic Thought
The Construction of Disciplinary Memory
Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels
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54 Family Fictions and Family Facts
Harriet Martineau, Adolphe Quetelet and the Population Question in England
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55 Eighteeth-century Economics
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56 The Rise of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment
Edited by Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
57 Classics and Moderns in Economics, volume 1
Essays on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Economic Thought
Peter Groenewegen
58 Classics and Moderns in Economics, volume 2
Essays on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Economic Thought
Peter Groenewegen
Edited by Tatsuya Sakamoto
and Hideo Tanaka
The Rise of Political
Economy in the Scottish
First published 2003
by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group
© 2003 editorial matter and selection, Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo
Tanaka; individual chapters, the authors
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or
reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic,
mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any
information storage or retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
The rise of political economy in teh Scottish enlightenment / edited by Tatsuya
Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0–415–29648–X
1.Economics Scotland History. 2. Economics Scotland Biography.
3. Philosophy, Scottish. 4. Scotland Intellectual life 5. Enlightenment
Scotland. 6. Smith, Adam, 1723-1790. 7. Hume, David, 1711-1776.
8. Fletcher, Andrew, 1655-1716. 9. Hutcheson, Francis, 1694-17446.
10. Stewart, Dugald, 1753-1828. I. Sakamoto, Tatsuya, 1955-II.
Tanaka, Hideo, 1949-
HB103.A2 R57 2003
330’ .092’2411 dc21 2002031936
This edition published in the Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2005.
“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s
collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”
ISBN 0-203-98665-2 Master e-book ISBN
List of contributors xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Editors’ Introduction 1
1 Andrew Fletcher’s criticism of commercial civilization 8
and his plan for European federal union
2 Policy debate on economic development in Scotland: 22
the 1720s to the 1730s
3 Morality, polity and economy in Francis Hutcheson 39
4 Robert Wallace and the Irish and Scottish Enlightenment 55
5 The ancient–modern controversy in the Scottish 69
6 Hume’s political economy as a system of manners 86
7 The ‘Scottish Triangle’ in the shaping of political economy: 103
David Hume, Sir James Steuart, and Adam Smith
8 Adam Smith’s politics of taxation: reconsideration of the 119
image of ‘Civilized Society’ in the Wealth of Nations
9 The main themes and structure of Moral Philosophy 134
and the formation of Political Economy in Adam Smith
10 Civilization and history in Lord Kames and 150
William Robertson
11 Liberty and Equality: Liberal Democratic Ideas 163
in John Millar
12 Dugald Stewart at the final stage of the Scottish 179
Enlightenment: natural jurisprudence, political economy
and the science of politics
13 Adam Smith in Japan 194
Index 209
x Contents
Yasuo Amoh is Professor of the History of Social Thought at Kochi University,
Japan. He has published Ferguson and the Scottish Enlightenment (in Japanese, Tokyo,
1993), and has edited, with an introduction, Adam Ferguson: Collection of Essays
(Kyoto, 1996).
Kimihiro Koyanagi is Professor of the History of Economics at Kita-kyushu
University, Japan. His books include History and Theory in the System of the Wealth of
Nations (in Japanese, Kyoto, 1981), Studies in the Scottish Enlightenment in an Economic
Perspective (in Japanese, Fukuoka, 1999) and, as editor, Civil Society: Thought and
Movement (in Japanese, Kyoto, 1985).
Hiroshi Mizuta is Emeritus Professor of Nagoya University, Japan and a member
of the Japan Academy. Apart from a number of books, and learned and popular
articles both in Japanese and in English concerning modern European intellectual
history, socialism, and contemporary political issues, his numerous publications on
Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment include Adam Smith’s Library: A
Supplement to Bonar’s Catalogue with a Checklist of the Whole Library (Cambridge, 1967;
revised edition, Oxford, 2000), Studies on Adam Smith (in Japanese, Tokyo,1968),
Adam Smith: International Perspectives (ed.) (London, 1993), Adam Smith: Critical
Responses (ed.) (London, 2000). He is also a Japanese translator of Smith’s Theory of
Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations. In 2001 he was awarded the Lifetime
Achievement Award by the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society.
Shigemi Muramatsu is Professor of the History of Economic Thought at
Kumamoto Gakuen University, Japan. His publications include many learned
articles on the intellectual history of the Union Debate.
Yoshio Nagai is Emeritus Professor of Nagoya University, Japan. His books include
Studies in British Radicalism (in Japanese, Tokyo, 1962), Essays on Robert Owen (in
Japanese, Kyoto, 1974), Bentham (in Japanese, Tokyo, 1982), Robert Owen and
Modern Socialist Thought (in Japanese, Kyoto, 1993), Studies in Modern British Social
Thought (in Japanese, Tokyo, 1996), and In Search of Liberty and Harmony: Social and
Economic Thought in the Age of Bentham (in Japanese, Kyoto, 2000). He has been an
Vice President of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies.

On behalf of all the contributors to this volume we warmly thank the Japanese
Society for the History of Economic Thought, and its President Hiroshi
Takemoto, for the moral and financial support that enabled the project to
publish a book on the economic thought of eighteenth-century Scotland to
become a reality. We also appreciate useful advice and encouragement from
Professor Yuichi Shionoya at the outset of the publishing project.
Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
July, 2002

This book seeks to provide a comprehensive view of the rise and progress of
political economy in eighteenth-century Scotland with a special emphasis
upon its internal connections with the Scottish Enlightenment. Apart from
numerous works written concerning eighteenth-century Scottish economists
or from equally numerous histories of economic thought including accounts
of Scottish thinkers of the same period, only a few works have been written
on the same subject as the present volume’s. A work of distinguished schol-
arly standard which easily comes to mind is Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of
Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment edited by I. Hont and M. Ignatieff
(Cambridge University Press, 1983). The book gave rise to a number of
substantial academic debates, which continue to be live and unresolved
issues. The academic excellence of the book has guaranteed its land-mark
status in the literature which remains unchallenged to this day. However, the
specific subject matter itself, the ambiguous relationships between wealth and
virtue in the shaping of political economy in the Scottish Enlightenment, seems to
have curiously faded away from the centre of Scottish Enlightenment studies
in the West over the past two decades. We venture to assert that the original
point of issue has gradually been stripped of its economic content and its
central focus has completely shifted to purely political and philosophical
issues centring around the simple dichotomy between wealth and virtue.
It is not difficult to explain the reason this has happened. In the first place,
the contributors to Wealth and Virtue were, with just a few exceptions, histo-
rians of political, and not of economic, thought. The disciplinary bias
undoubtedly had an essential bearing upon the overall problem setting of the
book. Notwithstanding the methodological caution with which some contrib-
utors like Nicholas Phillipson, John Robertson, Donald Winch and, above
all, John Pocock treated the subject, there is a sense in which we can safely
claim that a danger of simplistic dichotomy, an either/or approach, between
wealth and virtue or between natural jurisprudence and classical republican
traditions crept in to the book. This initial methodological limitation of the
scope and perspective inevitably determined the way in which all ensuing
works addressing the same issue have discussed the tension between wealth
and virtue in the Scottish Enlightenment. Indeed we should not forget the
Editors’ Introduction
works by John Dwyer, Roger Emerson, Richard B. Sher and others
that have greatly helped to redress this bias and limitation. But their eminence
as social historians of eighteenth-century Scotland did not permit them effec-
tively to resolve both historical and theoretical complexities specifically related
to the province of political economy.
However, historians of political thought are not solely responsible for the
relative decline of the original concern. A no less significant circumstance that
we ought to remember is the state of the art in the history of economics in the
English-speaking world. Due to high level of specialization and the general
demand for analytical exactness, it has been made increasingly difficult for
professional historians of economic thought in the West to delve into details and
particulars of the infant state of the science, mainly in the pre-Smithian stage of
development. Viewed in this light, the series of influential works directed to this
very stage by Terence Hutchison, Andrew Skinner and Donald Winch ever
since the 1960s and in particular in the 1980s naturally emerge as rather excep-
tional achievements quite apart from how distinguished and indispensable they
are. It is true that the recent upsurge since the late 1990s in the sheer amount
and quality of English-language studies on James Steuart, David Hume and
Adam Smith is genuinely impressive, and almost overwhelming in the case of
the last. Nevertheless very few of them are seriously concerned with the ques-
tion of the rise and progress of political economy in the Scottish Enlightenment.
It is likely that the implicitly assumed scientific autonomy of economics has
prevented it from being included within the more general issues of morals and
politics of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Be that as it may, it is certainly difficult to avoid the impression that very little
more than a scattered and occasional attention has been paid by historians of
economic thought in the West to our subject; the interaction between the
general historical forces that formed the Scottish Enlightenment and the disci-
plinary development of political economy as a science. The present volume is
intended to fill this curious gap in the Western literature by collecting papers
written entirely by historians of economic and social thought. We define the
main objective of the book as a chronological examination of the way in which
economic discourses were manifesting themselves in a variety of forms and
styles in eighteenth-century Scotland. The term ‘economic’ here used will cover
the widest possible areas bordering upon history, morals and politics. Our efforts
to make the choice of thinkers as extensive as possible are realized in the
contents starting from Andrew Fletcher and ending with Dugald Stewart. Past
books of similar kind were restricted in their historical scope because they rested
upon the traditional notion that the history of economics ought naturally to be
divided by the change of perspective from pre-Smithian mercantilism to the
emergence of the Wealth of Nations.
By contrast we present detailed discussions of as many as twelve thinkers
including not only such ‘great’ thinkers as Hume, Steuart, and Smith, but also
many lesser-known figures — ‘lesser known’ in this context meaning figures not
normally treated in the history of economic thought notwithstanding their
2 Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
acknowledged importance in other kinds of history. Indeed although such
people have been known for their serious interest in economic subjects, they
have tended to be seen as mere precursors of Hume and Smith. On the
contrary, we attempt to consider their economic thought in its own right, with
some essential bearings on their extra-economic arguments. All the contributors
to this volume know well of the heated debates in the West that followed the
publication of Wealth and Virtue. But they also maintain a high level of method-
ological caution against excessive simplification or dichotomization. This is true
not only of their treatments of the lesser figures, but also of the central figures.
Contributors are keenly aware that their subjects more or less shared a common
set of problems in their economic thinking and that in attempting to solve these
problems they respectively relied upon and used for their purposes traditionally
given categories and patterns of discourse related to wealth and/or virtue and
to classical republicanism and/or natural jurisprudence. Their common prob-
lems and corresponding objectives ultimately derived from the national need to
civilize Scotland in all conceivable human and material terms and were all
intended to promote moral, political and economic improvements of the nation.
Chapter 1 by Shigemi Muramatsu sheds a new light on the famous Union
debate as an opportunity for Scottish thinkers to reconsider the nature of
commercial civilization. An incorporating union with England was expected by
William Seton to liberate the commons and their industry from feudal bondage
and enable them to fully modernize themselves. William Black, who proposed a
second option of maintaining Scotland’s political independence, believed that
the preservation of feudal and hereditary serfdom would prove indispensable for
competing with England’s privileged trading companies. The third alternative
was proposed by Andrew Fletcher. Believing that commercial civilization would
cause a corruption of manners and conflicts among nations, he proposed a
national economy based on agriculture and a federal government on republican
Gentaro Seki in chapter 2 traces the aftermath of the Union debate as a
consistent series of arguments geared to propose a most realistic policy prescrip-
tion for Scotland’s economic prosperity. Twenty-three years after the Union, Sir
John Clerk was disappointed to see that the Scottish economy was still underde-
veloped because of an economic inequality between Scotland and England. P.
Lindsay’s work of 1733 tried to explain these particular ‘circumstances of busi-
ness’ theoretically. T. Melvill criticized Lindsay for dismissing the possibility of
improving woollen manufacturing, which was seen as the English staple. In 1744
D. Forbes argued that Scottish landlords ought to take the lead in transforming
their people’s manners and customs. Though the debates remained unsolved
even in 1740s, Seki holds that the policy debate’s substantial contribution
toward Scottish economic development is clear.
Toshiaki Ogose in chapter 3 examines Francis Hutcheson’s status as the
‘father’ of the Scottish Enlightenment chiefly, but not exclusively, from an
economic point of view. Hutcheson accepted Shaftesbury’s view that human
beings were naturally endowed with the ‘moral sense’ to establish that human
Editor’s Introduction 3
beings and the universe are made to harmonize with each other as divine crea-
tures. The same view characterizes his jurisprudence in the sense that human
right is to be construed as part of man’s duty of promoting the public good. For
instance, Hutcheson argued for the quasi-absolute nature of private property by
making it ultimately subject to limitation by the standard of public interest. In
the same vein, he showed favour for the agrarian law and severely criticized the
Scottish entail. Hutcheson’s philosophy is based on his clear awareness of the
vital importance of virtuous citizens’ morality for economic development and of
its practical decline in his own times. His urgent demand for the central role of
government to promote morals in society was one with his desperate hope for
realizing justice in the midst of economic improvement.
Chapters 4 and 5 by Yoshio Nagai and Yasuo Amoh combine to form inter-
esting and original reassessments of the thought of Robert Wallace.
Notwithstanding the gross underestimation of Wallace in the literature (except
as one of the pioneering theorists in the history of population theory), he actu-
ally held a pivotal social and intellectual position among the Moderate Literati
of Edinburgh during the formative years of the Scottish Enlightenment. Nagai
examines Wallace’s overall view of modern civilized society as a complex
amalgam of modernist and anti-modernist tendencies. In particular, he places
Wallace’s thought not just in the usual context of population controversy with
Hume, but also in a broader context of the morals and politics of the British
Enlightenment. A so-far neglected similarity between Wallace and George
Berkeley is brought to light by detailed analysis. By contrast, Amoh’s compara-
tive study of Wallace’s and Hume’s discourses on ancient and modern
population produces a number of interesting observations by its unprecedented
closeness. The nature of his utopian vision of the future of mankind will also be
discussed in this connection. In addition, Amoh examines Wallace’s unpublished
manuscripts. The two chapters, written in contrasting perspectives, nevertheless
reveal the profound extent to which Wallace’s thought can be seen as a contra-
dictory but fruitful mixture of contemporary views and ideologies.
Tatsuya Sakamoto in chapter 6 seeks to show that the turning point in the
genesis of Hume’s economic thought was his experience of a European tour
that triggered a new departure in his thinking about the prime engine of
modern civilized society. As the occasion coincided with the publication of
Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws (L’Esprit des lois) in 1748, Hume developed
his economic thought as an act of fundamental criticism of the climatic theory
of national characters. In particular the concept of ‘manners’ will be shown to
have played a vital role in shaping his economic views. Sakamoto traces
enduring results of the idea throughout his ensuing works and confirms the
concept’s formative role not just as the theoretical framework, but also as a body
of specific analyses in his economic discourse. In particular, it will be demon-
strated that the long-debated ambiguity or tension between Hume’s so-called
quantity theory of money and his inflationist view can be resolved by an inter-
pretative strategy focusing upon the ‘manners’.
Ikuo Omori in chapter 7 provides a comprehensive picture of the so - called
4 Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
‘Scottish Triangle’ of political economy comprised by Hume, Steuart and Smith.
Steuart proposed a new science of political economy in order to digest and over-
come Hume’s idea of free economic society. Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations
with a strong but carefully covered intention of attacking Steuart’s political
economy. The three did, nevertheless, face the common unsettled issue
concerning the conflict between Scottish economic development and their
perception of its resulting moral corruption of the people, which was a target of
fierce criticism by civic humanists. In conclusion, the author situates Steuart and
Smith not as a relationship of theoretical progress, but as constituting the same
camp of modified economic liberalism that was inspired by largely similar histor-
ical views but entailing sharply differing policy proposals.
Chapter 8 by Keiichi Watanabe re-examines Adam Smith’s view of the
economic structure of civilized society as seen in his theory of taxation. Smith
developed a critical analysis of the taxation system under English mercantilism
and suggested his original proposals for reform. His view of excise as being
imposed for reducing land tax but ultimately resulting in a tax on the rent of land,
was unique and sensational in the historical context of his days. Smith proposed a
reform plan for the fixed-rate land-tax introduced after the Glorious Revolution
(1688) and demanded a higher land-tax be paid by the landed classes. Watanabe
draws from this Smith’s affirmative view of social and economic hegemony of the
land-owning classes and seeks to revise the common view of Smith as a champion
of industrial capitalism. By so doing he attempts to grasp the idea of Smith as a
major proponent of ‘agrarian capitalism’, which was closely similar to but not
necessarily the same as the classical republican version of agrarianism.
Shoji Tanaka in chapter 9 presents a chronological inquiry into the consistency
and change in Adam Smith’s fundamental vision of a civilized society. In partic-
ular Tanaka grasps the essential features of Smith’s moral theory in the Theory of
Moral Sentiments as constituted by two seemingly contradictory principles of provi-
dential and empirical naturalism. Notably enough Tanaka searches for the precise
manner in which Smith’s metaphysical concept of Nature in the Theory grew into
his economic idea of the system of natural liberty in the Wealth of Nations. In this
connection a particular emphasis is placed upon the vital significance of Smith’s
encounter with James Steuart’s Principles. The work as establishing a demand-side
and quasi-Keynesian system of market control provided Smith with a decisive
step with which to develop his own supply-side system of natural liberty founded
upon the autonomy of market forces and particularly upon his view of individ-
uals’ motive to better their living conditions.
The place of history in the Scottish Enlightenment continues to be a blind spot
even in recent studies. This is curious considering that the term ‘Scottish
Historical School’ was once used by scholars to mean what was later to be seen as
an essential element of the Scottish Enlightenment. Chapters 10 and 11 attempt
to fill this gap. Kimihiro Koyanagi in chapter 10 provides a comparative analysis
of the views on human history and civilization of Lord Kames and William
Robertson. Kames regarded human history as a series of conflicts between
progress and decay. This dual mode of historical analysis was closely combined
Editor’s Introductiocion 5
with the four-stage theory which led him to understand human history as a
progress from industry to civil society on the one hand and a degradation from
avarice to luxury on the other. Robertson’s works were infused with his firm belief
in Christianity. Nevertheless he was free from any religious or ideological biases
and dogmas and rather developed a comparative and scientific method of histor-
ical analysis. In consequence Robertson idealized the state of a society founded
upon the principle of Christianity as civil religion and upon the rule of law as
nearly realized by the British constitution after the Union of England with
Scotland in 1707.
Differently from Robertson, John Millar has been recognized less as a historian
per se than as a historically minded theoretician. This might have stemmed from
the fact that his Origin of the Distinction of Ranks, rather than the posthumously
completed Historical View of the English Government, has long been considered his
seminal work. Hideo Tanaka, in chapter 11, seeks to redress the imbalance by a
close reading of the latter book. Tanaka reveals an original character of Millar’s
constitutional history by examining Millar’s arguments of the growth of English
liberty extending from the Anglo-Saxon era to the Revolution of 1688. While
Millar placed a particular emphasis upon the vital role of commerce in realizing
the principle of equality, Tanaka points out that in this Humean exercise Millar
revived the Hutchesonian legacy of political radicalism in a way suggesting an
intellectual development from the Scottish Enlightenment to Utilitarian radi-
Hisashi Shinohara in chapter 12 treats Dugald Stewart as a so-far neglected
but infinitely significant figure at the close of the Scottish Enlightenment. This
chapter attempts to sketch the overall character and content of his economic
system by investigating the Dissertation published in 1816. Stewart systematized
Thomas Reid’s abstruse philosophy in a way more approachable for the
succeeding generation. At the same time he succeeded Adam Smith’s political
economy. Stewart had an ambition to search for the universal principles of justice
and expediency, and this meant an indirect criticism of Smith’s system of natural
justice that Smith assumed to be logically separable from the principles of politics.
Stewart believed in the need for the full realization of the moral and intellectual
powers of the human mind attainable only through the improvement and accom-
plishment of political society. Shinohara suggests not only that this belief was
firmly rooted in the Scottish tradition of moral philosophy but also that as such it
pointed toward a possible utilitarian reconstruction of Smith’s system.
The book closes by a chapter by Hiroshi Mizuta. He explains the reason, both
historical and rational, why Japanese scholars have devoted such tremendous
energy to studies of Adam Smith for more than a century, and, more recently, to
subjects related to the Scottish Enlightenment. As he vividly describes with
personal recollections, after the late-nineteenth century, Japanese intellectuals
were desperately seeking to modernize their own society according to the Western
model. Smith, as the father of the modern social science of economics, was natu-
rally understood to be the core of the model. At the same time they sought for
something that would function as a weapon in the fundamental criticism of those
6 Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
negative aspects of modernization that were already apparent in the contempo-
rary Western world. This explains why Smith has been so seriously studied in
Japan by generations of scholars, almost always in comparison with Marx. Not
necessarily with hindsight one might argue from Mizuta’s narrative that this clear
awareness of the ambiguous nature of modernization as commercialization just
happened to coincide with the similar awareness generally shared by eighteenth-
century Scottish intellectuals.
This is also the reason why Smith as the author of the Moral Sentiments has
attracted such special attention from Japanese scholars. Even as the author of the
Wealth of Nations, a different view of Smith from the stereotypes of the classical
and the neo-classical economics has constantly been more influential in this tradi-
tion. Though in former times the alternative reading was solely represented by
Marxist versions of Smith’s economics, it has now come to be more diversified
and complicated to include even the question of the tension between virtue and
commerce in commercial society. Apart from whether or not it is appropriate to
grasp the nature of the Scottish tradition of economic thought as ‘philosophical’
and ‘sociological’ as A.L. Macfie once did, it is certain that those approaches also
overlap in some significant ways with Japan’s established tradition, first of aspiring
to civilization and commercialization in the Western fashion, and second of
having, at the same time, some sceptical doubts about the final moral validity of
the attempt.
Thus, even including the perceived inevitability of commercial civilization, the
modern Japanese and eighteenth-century Scottish intellectuals’ profound
concerns are found to converge on the same issues and concerns in this unex-
pected manner. This might explain the aforementioned fact that, differently from
the West, Japan is a country where issues related to the Wealth and Virtue and
ensuing debates in their various aspects have most seriously been studied by histo-
rians of economic thought. The editors and contributors are all active members
of the Japanese Society for the History of Economic Thought at the time of
writing. In one profound sense, they represent the country’s long and unique
tradition of the unparalleled seriousness with which study in the history of the
western economic thought in general has been consistently pursued.
Tatsuya Sakamoto and Hideo Tanaka
Editor’s Introduction 7
Andrew Fletcher (1653–1716) published several discourses over a period of
seven years from 1697 to 1704. Those discourses whose authorship is securely
attributed to him at present are A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias
(1697, the revised edition in 1698a Militias hereafter), Two Discourses Concerning the
Affairs of Scotland (1698b Two Discourses), A Discourse Concerning the Affairs of Spain
(1698c Spain), and An Account of a Conversation for the Common Good of Mankind
(1704; Account), excepting his several speeches and letters (Robertson 1997: xxxv).
John Robertson suggests that all of Fletcher’s writings had ‘a definite intellectual
identity’ on civic principles. But, even so, it seems that a comparison of his writ-
ings in the 1690s and the Account shows some development in his understanding
of commercial civilization and trade. Certainly, in the Militias, Fletcher argued
about the negative effects of commercial civilization such as the replacement of
the frugal and military way of living with a luxurious one and the introduction of
a standing army and tyranny. Despite this, all he proposed was the establishment
of a new militia system in Scotland and England. The aims of the Two Discourses
were to seek government support for Scotland’s Darien scheme, and to propose
some social reforms in Scotland. His proposals were, however, based on his
understanding of Scotland’s ‘backwardness’ in trade and agriculture, not on his
understanding of the nature of commercial civilization based on trade. The
intention of the Spain was to warn his readers against the threat of universal
monarchy through showing them some measures or actions which ‘pretenders to
the crown of Spain’ could take, namely through showing, as it were, ‘the State’s
first Law of Motion’ (Meinecke 1998: 1). Trade was just treated as a basis of
universal monarchy without arguing about any of the possible evils it may cause
by itself. We may say that his treatment of trade in the works of the 1690s was
decided by the differences in their themes. Even taking this into account, we
must say that we can find the first argument about the nature of commercial
civilization in the Account, not in these others. According to the Account, the
gravest evil of commercial civilization was that it caused a concentration of
wealth and population, leading to the ‘corruption of manners’ and conflict
among nations. In other words, the content of the Account shows us that he was
finally able to grasp the structural problems in the formation of a national
economy based on trade.
1 Andrew Fletcher’s criticism
of commercial civilization
and his plan for European
federal union
Shigemi Muramatsu
What, then, made it possible for him to do so? In my view, his involvement in
the controversy preceding the Union of 1707 provided him with an opportunity
to give a critical reconsideration to the nature of commercial civilization. The
controversy was as to what relation Scotland should have with England and what
course of economic development Scotland should follow in order to defend her
national interest. Unionist William Seton (1673–1744), and anti-unionist William
Black (dates unknown), who looked upon economic development through trade
and manufacture as the national interest, highly estimated England’s, especially
Charles Davenant’s, political arithmetic (Seton 1705:16; Black 1707:15). On
account of the situation, it is most probable that Fletcher felt the need to study
England’s political arithmetic. His critical study of it gave him a deeper under-
standing of commercial civilization and the theory of the concentration. But it
did not mean that he jettisoned such issues as ‘the freedom of government and
militia’, ‘social reforms for Scotland’s economic development’, ‘limitations’, and
‘reason of state’, as argued in his writings and speeches preceding the Account.
Rather, the deeper understanding made it possible for him to reorganize those
issues and give them each a place in his plan for peace among nations.
In this chapter, through examining how Fletcher could obtain a deeper
understanding of commercial civilization and what place the above-mentioned
issues were given in his plan, I will attempt to shed a light on the characteristic
features of his criticism of the civilization and his plan for a European constitu-
tion. In doing so, I shall begin with a brief discussion of the militia issue.
The Freedom of government and the militia system
Since the union of crowns of 1603 the Parliament of Scotland had always been
subordinated to the interests of England. Some of those who thought that the
subordination created Scotland’s economic crisis at the turn of the eighteenth
century emphasized Scotland’s long history of ‘freedom and independence’, and
attempted to put limitations on the crown and win the Parliament’s indepen-
dence from England. Even so, they disagreed on how the ‘freedom of
government’ of Scotland had been preserved in the past, or should be so in the
future. George Ridpath (1660?–1726) defended the ‘freedom’ in the ancient
constitution with a Fergus myth and a political maxim. According to Ridpath,
the Fergus myth proved that Scotland’s monarchy had been elective. The maxim
was as follows, by which he claimed that dominion ought to follow property:
the Estates of Scotland … being the hereditary proprietors of the
country before
ever we had anything like a King, it followed by necessary consequence,
that your ancestors were our hereditary sovereigns and legislators, and our
Kings had their power and authority from them, as an office of trust, but
not of property.
(Ridpath 1703: 3)
Andrew Fletcher’s criticism of commercial civilization 9
The introduction of feudalism into Scotland, in his view, did not change the fact
that the original proprietors of land were the Estates.
On the contrary, Fletcher
found ‘freedom’ in the government of the barbarian invaders of antiquity. He
traced the rise and alteration of the government of Europe since the fifth
century in the Militias. Fletcher explained that the Goths, the Vandals, and other
warlike nations who overran the western parts of the Roman empire introduced
the following form of government into all the nations they subdued. The general
of the army became king of the conquered country, and he divided the lands
among the great officers of his army (afterwards called barons). The officers
again parcelled out their territories in smaller portions to the inferior soldiers
that had followed them in the wars. The soldiers then became their vassals
enjoying those lands for military service. This constitution of government put the
sword into the hands of the subjects, which effectually secured the freedom of
governments. This was because the vassals depended more immediately on the
barons than on the king. However, the penetration of commercial civilization
since the sixteenth century introduced a luxurious way of living, and the barons
substituted payments of money from their vassals for military service, in order to
maintain their own expensive lifestyles. In this way the militias came to an end,
and military power came to be concentrated in the king’s hands. Consequently,
the Gothic government, which was a limited monarchy, transformed itself into a
tyranny (Fletcher 1698a: 3–7).
According to Fletcher, the ‘freedom’ in the Gothic government was secured
by the balance between the military power of the king and that of the barons,
and that this freedom was lost with the upsetting of that balance. He had no
concern for the issue of who ‘the original proprietors of land’ were. Whoever
‘the original proprietors of land’ might be, or whether Scotland’s monarchy was
elective or hereditary, it was of no importance to him. Whoever the prince or
king might be, whether a protestant or a catholic, wise or not, if he could get
control of a standing army, the ‘freedom of government’ would be lost. Fletcher
always represented the prince or king as the personification of the ‘reason of
state’ aspiring to increase his rule. As John Robertson suggests, the concept of
‘reason of state’ played a crucial role in Fletcher’s argument (Robertson 1997:
xxiii–xxvi). The nature itself of the ‘reason of state’ defined his line of argument
to defend the freedom of government against it. According to Fletcher, ‘reason
of state’ could take any action or measure, without regard for rights such as
property rights or the right of succession, if it were necessary for the increase of
its power. He described this nature of the ‘reason of state’ in the Spain. He,
therefore, did not think any argument based on right effective against the ‘reason
of state’. Sir George Mackenzie(1636–91) argued in his Institutions of the Law of
Scotland (1684) that the location of sovereignty depended on who the original
proprietors of the land were (Mackenzie 1722: 281). Ridpath also developed the
same argument, though his conclusion was the opposite of Mackenzie’s.
According to Fletcher, the argument should be left ‘to the Doctor of laws’
(Fletcher 1698c: 99). As ‘the State’s first Law of Motion’ was based on necessity,
rather than on right, Fletcher gave preference to the argument based on neces-
10 Shigemi Muramatsu

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