Millar, John, 1735–1801, Scottish philosopher and historian. Millar studied at Glasgow, where he became the chief disciple of Adam Smith. In 1761 Millar became professor of civil law at Glasgow, and his lectures there made him a national figure. He was one of the earliest advocates of the view that later became known as economic determinism, and in his Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (1778) he advanced the view that all social relations, even relations between the sexes, are determined by the economic organization of society. His Historical View of the English Government (1787) was one of the first constitutional histories of England. Drawing upon the histories of other peoples for comparative purposes, and emphasizing the social and economic bases of political institutions and developments, it represented a marked advance in historical scholarship.
See biography by W. C. Lehmann (1960).