Political Theory

Liberty and Responsibility in the Scottish Militia Debate


This conference explored the debate over the superiority of a citizen militia as opposed to a professional standing army and its significance for self-government and liberty. Special attention was paid to the position of Adam Smith, who advocates a professional standing army in his Wealth of Nations, but elsewhere seems to indicate sympathy for the ideal of a civil militia. In addition, this conference explored the relationship between republicanism and classical liberalism.


Conference Readings

Smith, Adam. "Adam Smith's Letter to William Strahan." London. 1760.

Ferguson, Adam. "Adam Ferguson's Letter to Adam Smith." London. 1776.

Carlyle, Alexander. A Letter to His Grace the Duke of Buccleugh, on National Defence; with Some Remarks on Dr. Smith's Chapter on that Subject, in his Book entitled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations . London: J. Murray, 1778.

Defoe, Daniel. “An Argument Shewing that a Standing Army, with Consent of Parliament, is Not Inconsistent with a Free Government.” Early English Books Online. http://eebo.chadwyck.com.ezpl.harvard.edu/search/fulltext?source=... (11/08/2006).

Ferguson, Adam. Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia. London: R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall, 1756.

Fletcher, Andrew, “A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias (1698)” In Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun: Selected Political Writings and Speeches, edited by David Daiches, 1-27. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1979.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. Discourses. London: Pelican, 1970.

Robertson, John. The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1985.

Smith, Adam. Lectures on Jurisprudence. Edited by R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael, and P. G. Stein. Liberty Fund: Indianapolis, 1982.

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Edited by R. H. Campbell, A. S. Skinner, and W. B. Todd. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981.

Trenchard, John. An Argument Shewing that a Standing Army is Inconsistent with a Free Government, and then Absolutely Destructive to the Constitution of the English Monarchy. London: Unknown, 1687.

Trenchard, John and Thomas Gordon. Cato's Letters or Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects. Edited by Ronald Hamowy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982.