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Title: The Scottish Enlightenment : reconfiguring citizenship for a commercial age
Author: Francis, Katherine
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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This Thesis addresses the Scottish Enlightenment’s reconfiguration of citizenship in a commercial age. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were a time of enormous challenge for Scotland, moving from a martial past to a commercial present. As the nature of society changed, so did the nature of citizenship and the Scottish Enlightenment sought to provide answers to the questions of what kind of citizen you should be and could be in this new age. I will argue these questions were central to the work of key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment and that we can most usefully understand their contributions to the debate by focussing on the concept of political responsibility, a concept I will develop and utilise to examine and assess changing notions of citizenship and appropriate social and political behaviour. Scottish Enlightenment thinkers were concerned with issues central to civic humanism, such as luxury, corruption and their impact on participation in political life. However, they were not limited by civic humanism and sought to understand and rethink these issues in the context of a commercialising society where citizenship could no longer be largely based on martial activity. They were realistic and recognised the necessity for change, that in commercial society a new kind of citizenship was required. This Thesis is concerned with the boundaries of citizenship in this new age: who was judged to be qualified to be a citizen and why; who was disqualified and why. Thus, a central focus will be on issues of inclusion and exclusion. While this Thesis is primarily an interpretive work, implicit throughout is the question of how successful these thinkers’ attempts to reconfigure citizenship for a commercial age were and whether it was possible to reconfigure civic humanism for this new age. Along with the work of those universally recognised as key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, such as Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith, I will consider not only predecessors, such as Gershom Carmichael and Francis Hutcheson, but also those whose works are literary rather than philosophical, such as James Macpherson, Henry Mackenzie and Walter Scott. I will argue that the Scottish Enlightenment has to be considered in a broader way than it often is, in terms of both time and material. In terms of time, the Scottish Enlightenment is a process not an event and needs to be understood in the context of a continuing Scottish debate on citizenship and political responsibility. In terms of material, the philosophers’ concerns were shared by journalists and novelists and their contribution is too little considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available