Adam Ferguson (fûr´gəsən), 1723–1816, Scottish philosopher and historian. He was professor of philosophy at the Univ. of Edinburgh (1759–85). His Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) criticized earlier theories of a state of nature; it was an important contribution to intellectual history and influenced Hegel. In his Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792), Ferguson advanced the principle of perfection and attempted to reconcile self-interest and universal benevolence.
See D. Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson (1965); M. Jack, Corruption and Progress: The 18th-Century Debate (1989).