23 September 2008

Wise Words

“A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” --Alexander Pope (1688-1744).

19 September 2008

A Personal Matter

It is with an enormous sense of relief that I report that an appellate court has upheld the conviction of the man who brutally attacked my step-father, giving him injuries that eventually led to his death. He was convicted of murder over a year ago, and the appellate court just this week rejected his petition to reduce the sentence to manslaughter. He will serve 79 years.

This has been a painful years-long ordeal. My step-sisters have been heroic in their diligence and vigilance, making sure that justice was done. Perhaps we can now all begin to mourn Jack properly.

May God rest your soul, Jack.

14 September 2008

What I'm Reading

A periodically updated post on things I've been reading recently . . . .

A History of Economic Thought, by Lionel Robbins. A collection of 33 essays Robbins delivered at the London School of Economics in the early 1980s (shortly before he died, in 1984). Robbins was one of the great economists of the twentieth century, and an excellent writer in addition.

Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, by Bradley J. Birzer. A fascinating biography of a thinker whose work was enormously influential on Catholicism in the first half of the twentieth century. A worthy successor to Birzer's previous book, J. R. R. Tolkein's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle Earth.

In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology, by Eric Cohen. An extended argument laying out the limitations of modern science and technology, while remaining cognizant--and appreciative--of their obvious promise and benefits.

The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big-Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy, by Richard Vedder and Wendell Cox. The authors argue that Wal-Mart unquestionably benefits everyone, and they review and address many objections to their claims and many criticisms raised against Wal-Mart.

Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life, edited by Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernst Fehr. An extensive, wide-ranging, and challenging set of essays laying out the claims and evidence that experimental economists, evolutionary psychologists, primatologists, and others have presented attempting to give various forms of naturalistic explanations for human morality.

08 September 2008

My Scholarship: Books

In 2002, my book Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life was published by Cambridge University Press. Here is a review of the book by Timothy M. Costelloe, here is one by David Gordon, here is one by Robert McCarthy, here is one by Margaret Schabas, here is one by Jack Russell Weinstein, and here is one by Jeffrey T. Young.

In 2003, my five-volume edited collection The Levellers: Overton, Walwyn, and Lilburne was published by Thoemmes Continuum Press.

In 2004, my edited collection Adam Smith: Selected Philosophical Writings was published by Imprint Academic, as part of the Library of Scottish Philosophy series.

In 2006, my book Actual Ethicswas published by Cambridge University Press. Here is a review of the book by Blain Neufeld, and here is a review by David Gordon. Actual Ethics won the Templeton Foundation's 2007 Culture of Enterprise Award, first place, which carries with it a cash award bigger than that of the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize! Here is a news story about the award, and here and here are two press releases about it.

06 September 2008

Brief Academic Biography

I received a BA magna cum laude from the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 1990. My senior essay, entitled "The Therapeutic Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein," won PLS's Otto A. Bird Award for best senior essay. I spent my sophomore year abroad, studying at the Universitaet Innsbruck, in Innsbruck, Austria.
From there I went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, from which I received an MA in philosophy in 1992. My paper "A Problem in Wittgeinstein's Philosophy of Language" won the department's 1991 Richard M. Peltz Memorial Award for Excellence in Philosophy. My master's thesis, "Locke's Arguments for the Existence of Natural Law," was directed by William Wainwright.
I then joined the philosophy department at the University of Chicago, from which I received a PhD in 1997. My dissertation was entitled "The Unintended Order of Morality: Adam Smith and David Hume on the Origins of Morality." It was directed by Daniel Garber (now at Princeton University), with readers Ted Cohen and Ian Mueller; Knud Haakonssen was an outside reader (then at Boston University; now at Sussex University).
Upon graduating from the University of Chicago, I took a position in the philosophy department at the University of Alabama in 1997. I was first an assistant professor, then promoted early to associate professor with tenure in 2002, then promoted to full professor in 2006. I was chairman of the deparment from 2005 until I resigned in 2007.
In the fall of 2007, I accepted a position as Director of the Schottenstein Honors Program in Yeshiva College, Yeshiva University; I was also made joint professor of philosophy and economics. In 2008 took a leave from Yeshiva to be a visitor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.
In the fall of 2009, I returned to Yeshiva as professor of philosophy and economics. As of September 1, 2009, I am also a Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC.

Jim Otteson's website

Hello and welcome to my new website! With the help of a good friend (thanks, Coop!), I've put together a site on which I will collect information about my professional activities. It will be under constant construction, and of course more content will be coming soon.

Please check back often and let me know what you think! E-mail me at jimotteson (at) gmail (dot) com.