The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Stewart, Dugald (1753–1828)

  • Nicholas Phillipson
Reference work entry


Stewart was the most important early commentator on Adam Smith’s work. He was born in Edinburgh in 1753 and died there in 1828. He was the brilliant and well- connected son of an Edinburgh professor and was destined for an academic career from the earliest age. Educated at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, Stewart was taught by Adam Ferguson and Thomas Reid and became a close acquaintance of Adam Smith. He was appointed to the Edinburgh Chair of Moral Philosophy on Ferguson’s retirement in 1785 and held it until 1810, when ill-health forced his retirement. A charismatic and influential teacher, his vast erudition and synthetic skill was shaped by an acute sensitivity to the ideological responsibilities of the pedagogue. He was a prolific writer whose contemporary reputation was built on the first volume of his Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (vol. 1, 1792; vol. 2, 1815; vol. 3, 1826) and its companion text book Outlines of Moral Philosophy (1793). These works circulated widely in the universities of Britain, America and the continent in the early 19th century and did much to establish Scottish Common Sense Philosophy as the most influential vehicle of elite education in the age of the American, French and Industrial Revolutions. Stewart’s collected works were published posthumously in 1854–60.


Political economy Smith, A Stewart, D 

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  1. Collini, S., D. Winch, and J. Burrow. 1893. That noble science of politics: A study in nineteenth-century intellectual history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Phillipson, N.T. 1983. Dugald Stewart and the pursuit of virtue in Scottish university education; Dugald Stewart and Scottish moral philosophy in the Enlightenment. In Universities, society and the future, ed. N. Phillipson. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Phillipson
    • 1
  1. 1.