James Otteson

James Otteson

Teaching Professor of Political Economy
Wake Forest University

Dr. James R. Otteson specializes in the history of modern philosophy, political philosophy, and the history and philosophy of economics. After receiving his BA from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD from the University of Chicago, Dr. Otteson taught at Georgetown University, University of Alabama, and Yeshiva University. His published writings include Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Actual Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Dr. Otteson is Executive Director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University, and he is also a Senior Fellow at the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC. Often speaking on Adam Smith and classical liberalism, he has served as a guest lecturer for organizations including the Foundation for Economic Education, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and the Fund for American Studies. He received a Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Order Prize in 2005, and he was named first-prize winner of the Templeton Enterprise Award in 2007.

Dr. Otteson is also member of the Mont Pelerin Society and one of the primary contributors to the blog Pileus.  He maintains a personal website and blog at www.jamesotteson.com.

Programs

Capitalism vs. Socialism

Videos

Free Will and Human Dignity: A Love Story

What is the value of free will and the ability to make your own choices? Prof. James Otteson recalls a parable his teacher taught him in high school. If you…

Does the NSA Violate Your Constitutional Rights?

Many Americans do not know what their constitutional freedoms are or why they were established in the first place. The freedoms Americans have are rare and fragile. They were put…

Freedom Requires Whistleblowers: The Importance of Transparency

Are you concerned about the activities government agencies are engaging in? Does it bother you to think the government is spying on you? If not, what reason do you have…

No Means No: The NSA, Edward Snowden, and Privacy

When Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies were looking into the lives of every American, many people were shocked. While claiming…

Adam Smith and the Follies of Central Planning

Architects create blueprints for buildings; could a person create a blueprint for society? Could such a person choose how many people will be lawyers and how many will be policemen?…

Liberty, Security, and the TSA

According to Professor James Otteson, there is a trade-off between liberty and security. Consider the recent procedures instituted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the name of defending us…

Liberty and Community: Marx and Smith on Commercial Societies

According to Professor James Otteson, one of the greatest challenges often presented against individual liberty and free markets is that they are atomizing. Essentially, it is claimed that people within…

Human Dignity and the Freedom to Choose

Prof. James Otteson describes how the freedom to choose is a crucial element of human dignity. Part of what makes us human is having free will and the freedom to…

What Motivated Adam Smith?

Why did Adam Smith, considered by many to be the father of economics, write The Wealth of Nations in 1776? Prof. James Otteson suggests that one of Adam Smith’s main…

What Would It Take For You To Fight For Your Liberty?

Prof. James Otteson believes it is extremely important to think about what it would take for you to fight for your liberty. Liberty is a fragile gift, and if this…

Rawls and Nozick on Liberty & Equality

Prof. James Otteson discusses the philosophers John Rawls and Robert Nozick, and their different views on liberty and equality. Rawls considered equality to be the moral benchmark for all social…

Adam Smith: The Invisible Hand

Why are some countries wealthy while other nations are poor? Prof. James Otteson, using the ideas of Adam Smith, explains how the division of labor is a necessary and crucial…

Liberty & Security

How should we think about the tradeoff between liberty and security? Prof. James Otteson of Yeshiva University argues that a basic amount of security is critical to protect our lives,…

Liberty & Virtue

Does a free society encourage immoral behavior? Prof. James Otteson of Yeshiva University argues that moral or virtuous behavior can only grow in a climate of individual liberty. The decisions…

Liberty & Equality

Two central values of American political life are liberty and equality. Are these two values in tension with one another? As philosophy Prof. James Otteson explains, it depends on how…

Liberty & Community

Does individual liberty threaten community? Some think that it does. As philosophy professor James Otteson explains, some worry that individual liberty undermines moral community, while others worry that it neglects…