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James R. Otteson

TFAS Senior Scholar


Dr. James R. Otteson is a senior scholar at The Fund for American Studies. He is the executive director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, a professor of economics and the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics at Wake Forest University. He specializes in political economy, business ethics, the history of economic thought and political philosophy.

Before joining Wake Forest, Otteson was joint professor of philosophy and economics and philosophy department chair, at Yeshiva University. He has taught previously at New York University, Georgetown University and the University of Alabama. He also currently serves as a research professor in the Freedom Center and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona.

Otteson’s scholarship focuses on political economy, political philosophy, history and philosophy of economics and eighteenth-century moral and political thought. He is an expert on Adam Smith, the moral foundations of capitalism and the comparative evaluation of competing systems of political economy.

His publications include “Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life” (Cambridge, 2002); “Actual Ethics” (Cambridge, 2006), which won the Templeton Enterprise Award in 2007; and “Adam Smith” (Bloomsbury, 2013). His most recent books are “The End of Socialism” (Cambridge, 2014) and an edited collection of primary sources called “What Adam Smith Knew: Moral Lessons on Capitalism from Its Greatest Champions and Fiercest Critics” (Encounter, 2014). He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and his doctorate from the University of Chicago.