This is the first exposition of how Enlightenment thinkers viewed this idea that shapes the world today. The Scottish Enlightenment was the first intellectual movement to view commercial society as a distinct and distinctive social formation - one that still shapes our everyday lives. Christopher Berry explains why Enlightenment thinkers considered commercial society to be wealthier and freer than earlier forms, and charts the arguments Scottish philosophers put forward for and against the idea. This is the first book to focus on the Scottish Enlightenment's conception of commercial society, revealing it to be the movement's core idea. It analyses key works like Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, David Hume's Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects and Adam Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society. It looks at lesser-known works such as Robert Wallace's Dissertation on Numbers of Mankind.