Faculty & Staff Directory


Picture of James R. Otteson

James R. Otteson

Executive Director, BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, Professor of Economics and Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics

Dr. Otteson joined Wake Forest in the fall of 2013 as Executive Director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and Teaching Professor of Political Economy. He currently holds the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics. Before coming to Wake Forest, Dr. 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 serves currently as a Research Professor in the Freedom Center and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona, and he is a Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC. Dr. Otteson received a BA from the Program of Liberal Studies (the "Great Books" program) at Notre Dame, an MA in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago.

Dr. 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, on eighteenth-century political and moral philosophy, on the moral foundations of capitalism, and on the comparative evaluation of competing systems of political economy.

  • Ph D, University of Chicago (Philosophy) - 1997
  • MA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Philosophy) - 1992
  • BA, University of Notre Dame (Philosophy) - 1990

Research Interests

  • Business ethics, political economy, the history of economic thought, moral and political philosophy.

Teaching Interests

  • Business ethics, comparative political economy, the moral foundation of economics.

  • Otteson, J. R. (Forthcoming). "Adam Smith on Justice, Social Justice, and Ultimate Justice". Social Philosophy and Policy. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (Forthcoming). "Adam Smith's Libertarian Paternalism". In David Schmidtz and Carmen Pavel (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Freedom (pp. 30). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Otteson, J. R. (Forthcoming). "Adam Smith on Virtue, Prosperity, and Justice". In Mark D. White and Jennifer Baker (Ed.), Economics and the Virtues: Building a New Moral Foundation (pp. 30). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Otteson, J. (Forthcoming). Adam Smith and the Political Right. In Ryan Patrick Hanley (Ed.), Adam Smith: The Princeton Guide Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Otteson, J. (2014). The End of Socialism. Cambridge University Press. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2013). Adam Smith. Bloomsbury Academic. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2013). Adam Smith. In Roger Crisp (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics (pp. 421-42). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2012). The Inhuman Alienation of Capitalism. Society, 49 (2), 139-143. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2011). How High Does the Impartial Spectator Go? In Paul Oslington (Ed.), Adam Smith as Theologian (pp. 15 pages). New York, NY: Routledge. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2010). Adam Smith and the Great Mind Fallacy. Social Philosophy and Policy, 27 (1), 276-304. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2010). The Scottish Enlightenment and the Tragedy of Human Happiness. In Kelly James Clark (Ed.), On Happiness Beijing: World Knowledge Press.
  • Otteson, J. (2009). Kantian Individualism and Political Libertarianism. The Independent Reviw, 13 (3), 389-409. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2009). Shaftesbury's Evolutionary Morality and Its Influence on Adam Smith. The Adam Smith Review, 27 (1), 276-304. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2006). Actual Ethics. Cambridge University Press. | more information
  • Otteson, J. (2002). Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life. Cambridge University Press. | more information

  • 2017 - Spirit of the School of Business, Wake Forest University School of Business
  • 2017 - T.B. Rose Faculty Fellowship
  • 2015 - 2015 Coolidge Prize for Journalism, Runner Up, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation
  • 2015 - Delta Zeta Faculty of the Month, Delta Zeta Sorority
  • 2015 - Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics
  • 2013 - Liggio Lectureship, Atlas Foundation
  • 2013 - Dobrianski Lecture, The Fund for American Studies
  • 2007 - Templeton Enterprise Award, Templeton Foundation
  • 2005 - Spontaneous Order Prize, Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Order

  • November 12, 2015 - "The End of Socialism", Duke University, the "Hayek Lecture" | more information
  • June 19, 2015 - Does capitalism make people mean and selfish?, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • April 6, 2015 - "Vernon Smith and James Otteson on Adam Smith", EconTalk | more information
  • March 27, 2015 - Defining business ethics? Start with these moral values, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • March 12, 2015 - Hey millennials, there is such a thing as an honest profit, Quartz | more information
  • March 6, 2015 - Vernon Smith and James Otteson on Adam Smith, Library of Economics and Liberty | more information
  • February 10, 2015 - The Fatal Errors of Socialism, The Tom Woods Show | more information
  • January 27, 2015 - Adam Smith on the financial crisis, The Economist | more information
  • December 8, 2014 - The End of Socialism, EconTalk | more information
  • November 28, 2014 - "Raising minimum wage isn't always the best answer", Triad Business Journal | more information
  • November 28, 2014 - Raising minimum wage isn't always the best answer, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • November 13, 2014 - "Opinion: The Moral Case for Capitalism", WSJ "Opinion Journal Live" | more information
  • October 3, 2014 - "Corporations give to look good. is that really such a bad thing?", Triad Business Journal | more information
  • October 3, 2014 - Corporations give to look good. Is that really such a bad thing?, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • August 1, 2014 - "Respect, not greed, is what makes capitalism work", Triad Business Journal | more information
  • August 1, 2014 - Respect, not greed, is what makes capitalism work, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • May 23, 2014 - "'Giving back to society' is part of most businesses' DNA", Triad Business Journal | more information
  • May 23, 2014 - ?Giving back to society' is part of most businesses' DNA, Triad Business Journal | more information
  • December 22, 2013 - "Capitalism 101: Course of Study Evolving for Center for Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest", Winston-Salem Journal | more information
  • October 1, 2013 - "Capitalism, the Rule of Law, and Human Dignity", "World: Torture--Asian and Global Perspectives" | more information