Philosopher/Economist James Otteson to lead BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism

9.9.2013 Capitalism, Faculty News, News Release

(September 9, 2013) The Wake Forest University School of Business welcomes Dr. James Otteson, the new Executive Director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University.  Otteson is a scholar who specializes in political economy, political philosophy and the history of modern philosophy.

Dr. Otteson served as joint professor of philosophy and economics at Yeshiva University for the past six years, and his scholarship has focused on the intersections of philosophy and economics. He is particularly known as a scholar of Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher and economist who is best known as author of “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” in 1776.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Otteson said. “With the BB&T Center’s mission to encourage the study of capitalism in all its facets, I am interested in exploring the institutions that that enable human flourishing. We want to know how a society of free and responsible persons can live together peacefully, and we want to examine the political, economic, moral, and cultural institutions that encourage prosperity and humanity.”

The BB&T Center began six years ago, under the leadership of Dr. Page West, who will remain involved with the BB&T Center and continue to teach strategy and entrepreneurship at the School.  West said,  “Earlier this year the School of Business revised its long-range strategic plan to incorporate education about the context of capitalism and free markets in all its programs, from undergraduate to executive education. Jim Otteson shares our vision that there is a critical need for future business leaders. His combination of scholarship, teaching experience and passion will take the BB&T Center to new levels.”

West also noted that Otteson’s position also includes an appointment as a Teaching Professor – a new faculty designation just approved in June by the University’s Board of Trustees – making Otteson the first under this new designation.

“I emphasize that the BB&T Center’s name is ‘Center for the Study of Capitalism,’” Otteson remarked, “Not the ‘Center for Capitalism.’ That is a small but momentous distinction. Capitalism has been a source of tremendous, even unprecedented prosperity, but like all human institutions – it is not perfect. We will want to examine it disinterestedly, understanding and exposing both the good and the bad, and then promoting the former and discouraging the latter.”

Otteson’s book, Actual Ethics, received the 2007 Templeton Enterprise Award, an award sponsored by the Templeton Foundation to honor publications that “advance the cause of ordered liberty around the world” by an author under the age of forty. His new book, The End of Socialism, is expected to be published by Cambridge University Press later this year. He was a guest several times on the Fox Business News program “Freedom Watch” and is one of the principal bloggers at Pileus, a blog hosted by The Fund for American Studies, which is an educational nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

Otteson received his BA from the University of Notre Dame, MA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Georgetown University and the University of Alabama. Currently, he is a Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies, and a Research Professor in the Freedom Center and Department of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, and a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in California.