The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks
The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks is one of the major products of the Scottish Enlightenment and a masterpiece of jurisprudence and social theory. Millar developed a progressive account of the nature of authority in society by analyzing changes in subsistence, agriculture, arts, and manufacture. The book is perhaps the most precise and compact development of the abiding themes of the liberal wing of the Scottish Enlightenment. Drawing on Smith’s four-stages theory of history and the natural law’s traditional division of domestic duties into those toward servants, children, and women, Millar provides a rich historical analysis of the ways in which progressive economic change transforms the nature of authority. In particular, he argues that, with the progress of arts and manufacture, authority tends to become less violent and concentrated, and ranks tend to diversify. Millar’s analysis of this historical progress is nuanced and sophisticated; for example, his discussion of servants is perhaps the best developed of the “economic” arguments against slavery.
The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks; or, An Inquiry into the Circumstances which give rise to Influence and Authority in the Different Members of Society, edited and with an Introduction by Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
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Table of Contents
- NATURAL LAW AND ENLIGHTENMENT CLASSICS
- The Argument of the Ranks
- John Craig’s “Account of the Life and Writings of the Author”
- Sources Used by Millar
- A NOTE ON THE TEXT
- TO JOHN YOUNG, ESQUIRE,1 PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW.
- ACCOUNT of the LIFE AND WRITINGS of JOHN MILLAR, ESQ.
- THE ORIGIN OF THE DISTINCTION OF RANKS.
- CHAPTER I: Of the Rank and Condition of Women in Different Ages
- SECTION I: The effects of poverty and barbarism, with respect to the condition of women.
- SECTION II: The influence acquired by the mother of a family, before marriage is completely established.
- SECTION III: The refinement of the passions of Sex, in the Pastoral Ages.
- SECTION IV: The consequences of the introduction of Agriculture, with respect to the intercourse of the Sexes.
- SECTION V: Changes in the condition of women, arising from the improvement of useful Arts and Manufactures.
- SECTION VI: The effects of great opulence, and the culture of the elegant arts, upon the relative condition of the sexes.
- CHAPTER II: Of the Jurisdiction and Authority of a Father over His Children
- SECTION I: The power of a father in early ages.
- SECTION II: The influence of the improvement of arts upon the jurisdiction of the father.
- CHAPTER III: The Authority of a Chief over the Members of a Tribe or Village
- SECTION I: The origin of a Chief, and the degrees of influence which he is enabled to acquire.
- SECTION II: The powers with which the chief of a rude tribe is commonly invested.
- CHAPTER IV: The Authority of a Sovereign, and of Subordinate Officers, over a Society Composed of Different Tribes or Villages
- SECTION I: The constitution of government arising from the union of different tribes or villages.
- SECTION II: The natural progress of government in a rude kingdom.
- CHAPTER V: The Changes Produced in the Government of a People, by Their Progress in Arts, and in Polished Manners
- SECTION I: Circumstances, in a polished nation, which tend to increase the power of the Sovereign.
- SECTION II: Other circumstances, which contribute to advance the privileges of the people.
- SECTION III: Result of the opposition between these different principles.
- CHAPTER VI: The Authority of a Master over His Servants
- SECTION I: The condition of Servants in the primitive ages of the world.
- SECTION II: The usual effects of opulence and civilized manners, with regard to the treatment of Servants.
- SECTION III: Causes of the freedom acquired by the labouring people in the modern nations of Europe.
- SECTION IV: Political consequences of Slavery.
- APPENDIX 1: Note on the Editions
- APPENDIX 2: Millar’s Preface to the First Edition
- PrefaceEdition: 1806; Page: [i]
- APPENDIX 3: Millar’s “Lectures on Government”
- 1.: A Course of Lectures on Government; Given Annually in the University. Glasgow. M.DCC.LXXI
- 2.: A Course of Lectures on Government; Given Annually in the University.
- Modern Texts
- Ancient Texts
- Roman, German, and Medieval Legal Works and Other Sources
- Translations Used in Preparation of This Edition