Presentation on theme: "David McKendrick and Stephen A. Webb Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland."— Presentation transcript:
David McKendrick and Stephen A. Webb Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland
Why focus on the Scottish Enlightenment? Setting the context and the relevance of Adam Ferguson Ferguson, commercialism and the concept of exploitation Ferguson's civic virtue and magnanimity
The Scottish Enlightenment tradition adds a line of trajectory and critical insights as well as historical texture, to several key issues which relate to social work ethics that should necessitate serious engagement.
"Despite critical differences between them, differences which have if anything been under-appreciated, I argue that the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment were unified by the commitment to human betterment in this world as the measure of progress, and to investigating the conditions of its achievement“ (Robertson, 1997)
Rousseau’s locution: Scottish social science spoke incessantly of virtue and liberty whereas others spoke mainly of utility.
In Scotland between the years 1750 and 1790, in the work of Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, John Millar, and to a lesser extent, the historian William Robertson, a remarkably modern sociological treatment of society and its institutions emerged, a tradition which was largely forgotten and ignored by the nineteenth century.
The irony is that this sociological treatment of society and its institutions should have been rejected by nineteenth-century social theorists in favour of organicism and the theory of progress. The true heirs of the Scottish sociological tradition became the socialists and Marx.
This bridging of traditions in Ferguson is used as a device here to reproduce these two related sides which reflect the contours of social work ethics: Firstly, an emphasis on civic virtue as informed by moral philosophy and secondly, the influence of theoretical sociology of structural power, exploitation and relations of domination
Ferguson was resigned to the fact that the division of labour was an inevitable contingency of the continuity of progress
Forms of government,” Ferguson tells us, “take their rise, chiefly from the manner in which the members of a state have been originally classed.”
Brewer (1986) (i) exploitation is understood as economic exploitation; (ii) it is approached through the notion of human agency; (iii) and the discussion of exploitation is integrally linked to an ethical concern about Its injustice.
It has been said that ‘Ferguson’s pages on the division of labour are a minor triumph of eighteenth century sociology’ (Peter Gay, The Enlightenment, 1970, II: 342–3)
Economic exploitation involves inequality of power and control in the labour process and is integrally linked by Ferguson to the division of labour and mechanical labour, which are seen to have the effect of denuding and diminishing the human agent. These adverse effects are analysed through the notion of human nature and can be described as alienation (p.471)
Herein lies an ethical imperative which sees economic exploitation, and the division of labour to which it is ultimately linked, as harmful, wrong and unjust (Brewer, ibid).
Iain McDaniel notes "The Essay on the History of Civil Society opens with an account of the 'Characteristics of Human Nature'. Ferguson's initial strategy in this section was to undermine the distinction between nature and artifice upon which both Hobbes's and Rousseau's arguments rested" (2013; p.67)
"he taught his students at Edinburgh that Justice rested upon a 'disposition favourable to mankind' not on utility, a view which Obviously contrasted with Hume“ (pp. 71-72).
Ferguson’s published inspiration comes from the Stoic absorption with sympathia, social Intimacy and communitarianism, which he then applies to the contemporary condition’ (Hill, p.152).
Magnanimity, courage, and the love of mankind, are sacrificed to avarice and vanity, or suppressed under a sense of dependence. The individual considers his community so far only as it can be rendered subservient to his personal advancement or profit: he states himself in competition with his fellow- creatures
.. seems to have slow movements, a deep voice and calm speech. For since he takes few things seriously, he is in no hurry, and since he counts nothing great, he is not strident; and these (attitudes s/he avoids) are the causes of a shrill voice and hasty movements (Aristotle, Ethics)
"Magnanimity involves reaching out to, and accommodating, what is unknown, strange and radically different. It denotes a new kind of openness or hospitality. It means working with service users from very different cultural and geographical backgrounds from our own“(Nixon, 2008).
Alasdair MacIntrye (1981):- "Ferguson's type of sociology which is the empirical counterpart of the conceptual account of the virtues which I have given, a sociology which aspires to lay bare the empirical, causal connection between virtues, practices and institutions”.
Scottish Enlightenment thinking represented a paradigm concerned with key sociological concepts that was not evident elsewhere in Britain These reference points are echoed by Bordieu in his work on “cultural capital” Wacquant in his examination of the rise of the “hyperghetto” Standing in his work on the emergence of the “Precariat” as a “new, dangerous class” All of whom have direct reference points in modern day Social Work
Thus social workers in doing good become good, we therefore contend that it is a necessity for virtuous social workers to challenge the causes of exploitation and that this should be central plank of our activity. Social workers to promote Ferguson’s magnanimity as a central tenant of our professional ethics. The question we pose is do existing ethical codes encourage and support this aim or do they develop an overly representative focus on the individual rather than notions of the “common weal”
According to Thomas P Miller Aristotle’s civic humanism underwrote the Scottish approach to political and moral theory with an emphasis on practice wisdom and prudence. Aristotle struggled with the challenge of achieving “the common good for all” in a state of “community of equals”. For Chomsky Adam Smith developed a brand of “socialism”. Smith understood that upholding the common good requires substantial intervention to assure lasting prosperity of the poor by distribution of public revenues
Feathersone, White and Morris in their critique of Child Protection present the metaphor of a “muscular” state. Responsibility is individualised and uncoupled from wider structural issues such as inequality discrimination and oppression. (e.g. David Cameron’s comments on Tracy Connolly)The role of the social worker is as the muscular arm of the state concerned with enforcing compliance with the states notion of what constitutes good parenting Notions of communitarianism and community itself are seen as secondary to the actions and motivations of the individual. The state becomes increasingly weightless (Toynbee) and hollow
Henry Giroux in describing the after effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the Bush neo liberal governance as a biopolitics of disposability. Marginalised and poor members of society, are unable to engage in the prevailing consumerist ethic. They are consigned to living in sinkholes of poverty in desolate or abandoned enclaves of decaying cities or rural spaces or in an ever expanding prison empire. Social work must challenge this and and reconsider our existing ethical settlement and develop a new, radical ethical base that has at its heart an enlightened approach
We must place the notion of virtue ethics which directly challenge discrimination, exploitation, and marginalisation as the core tenants of a new radical and Enlightened Scottish social work.