Books by GISME Faculty


Why It's OK to Want to Be Rich

Jason Brennan

Routledge Press

Finger-wagging moralizers say the love of money is the root of all evil. They assume that making a lot of money requires exploiting others, and that the best way to wash off the resulting stain is to give a lot of it away. In Why It's OK to Want to Be Rich, Jason Brennan shows that the moralizers have it backwards. he argues that, in general, the more money you make, the more you already do for others, and that even an average wage earner is productively "giving back" to society just by doing her job. In addition, wealth liberates us to have the best chance of leading a life that's authentically our own.While writing that  the more money one has, the more one should help others, Brennan also notes that we weren't born into a perpetual debt to society. It's>OK to get rich and its's OK to enjoy being rich, too. 


Good Work if You Can Get It: How to Succeed in Academia

Jason Brennan

Johns Hopkins University Press

Do you want to go to graduate school? Then you're in good company: nearly 80,000 students will begin pursuing a PhD this year alone. But while almost all of new PhD students say they want to work in academia, most are destined for disappointment. The hard truth is that half will quit or fail to get their degree, and most graduates will never find a full-time academic job. In Good Work If You Can Get It, Jason Brennan combines personal experience with the latest higher education research to help you understand what graduate school and the academy are really like.This realistic, data-driven look at university teaching and research will make your graduate and postgraduate experience a success. Good Work If You Can Get It is the guidebook anyone considering graduate school, already in grad school, starting as a new professor, or advising graduate students needs.


Injustice for All: How Financial Incentives Corrupted and Can Fix the US Criminal Justice System

Jason Brennan and Chris Surprenant

Routledge Press

American criminal justice is a dysfunctional mess. Cops are too violent, the punishments are too punitive, and the so-called Land of the Free imprisons more people than any other country in the world. Understanding why means focusing on color—not only on black or white (which already has been studied  extensively), but also on green. The problem is that nearly everyone involved in criminal justice—including district attorneys, elected judges, the police, voters,  and politicians—faces bad incentives. Local towns often would rather send people to prison on someone else’s dime than pay for more effective policing themselves. Local police forces can enrich themselves by turning into warrior cops who steal from innocent civilians. Voters have very little incentive to understand the basic facts about crime or how to fix it—and vote accordingly. And politicians have every incentive to cater to voters’ worst biases. Injustice for All systematically diagnoses why and where American criminal justice goes wrong, and offers functional proposals for reform. By changing who pays for what, how people are appointed, how people are punished, and which things are criminalized, we can make the US a country which guarantees justice for all.


The Liberal Approach to the Past: A Reader

Michael J. Douma

What do we mean by liberalism or liberal history? It seems that every scholar in the social sciences would like define liberalism in their own way. Certainly, there is plenty of room for differences of opinion on this matter. But defining any “-ism” requires circumscribing a set of beliefs, or drawing lines in such a way as to connect ideas which we believe form a coherent tradition. Liberal history is primarily concerned with ideas and with the reasons why individuals act as they do in the past. Liberal historians prefer to study themes of power and liberty, particularly as they relate the rise and fall of political systems that protect liberties and individual rights. As the selections in this reader show, the liberal approach to the past is generally skeptical of laws of history and suggestions of historical determinism.


Thinking Through Utilitarianism

Andrew Forcehimes and Luke Semrau 

Hackett Publishing 

Thinking through Utilitarianism: A Guide to Contemporary Arguments offers something new among texts elucidating the ethical theory known as Utilitarianism. Intended primarily for students ready to dig deeper into moral philosophy, it examines, in a dialectical and reader-friendly manner, a set of normative principles and a set of evaluative principles leading to what is perhaps the most defensible version of Utilitarianism. With the aim of laying its weaknesses bare, each principle is serially introduced, challenged, and then defended. The result is a battery of stress tests that shows with great clarity not only what is attractive about the theory, but also where its problems lie. It will fascinate any student ready for a serious investigation into what we ought to do and what is of value. 


Cracks in the Ivory Tower

Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness

Oxford University Press

Academics extol high-minded ideals, such as serving the common good and promoting social justice. Universities aim to be centers of learning that find the best and brightest students, treat them fairly, and equip them with the knowledge they need to lead better lives. But as Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness show in Cracks in the Ivory Tower, American universities fall far short of this ideal. At almost every level, they find that students, professors, and administrators are guided by self-interest rather than ethical concerns. College bureaucratic structures also often incentivize and reward bad behavior, while disincentivizing and even punishing good behavior. Most students, faculty, and administrators are out to serve themselves and pass their costs onto  others. 


In Defense of Openness

In Defense of Openness: Global Justice as Global Freedom

Jason Brennan and Bas van der Vossen

Oxford University Press

A spirited challenge to mainstream political theory from two leading political philosophers, In Defense of Openness offers a new approach to global justice: We don't need to "save" the poor. The poor will save themselves, if we would only get out of their way and let them.

Jason Brennan

Princeton University Press

The economist Albert O. Hirschman famously argued that citizens of democracies have only three possible responses to injustice or wrongdoing by their governments: we may leave, complain, or comply. But in When All Else Fails, Jason Brennan argues that there is a fourth option. When governments violate our rights, we may resist. We may even have a moral duty to do so. The result is a provocative challenge to long-held beliefs about how citizens may respond when government officials behave unjustly or abuse their power.


The Form of the Firm

Abraham A. Singer

Oxford University Press

What are we to make of the power that corporations wield over people in modern society? Is such power legitimate. Many think so. To many businessmen and economists, as well as the general public, firms are purely private and economic entities, justified in using all legal means to maximize profit. In The Form of the Firm, Abraham Singer contends that such a view rests on a theoretical foundation that, while quite subtle, is deeply flawed. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, corporations are not natural outgrowths of the free market. Instead, Singer invites us to see corporations as political institutions that correct market inefficiencies through mechanisms normally associate with government - hierachy, power, and state-sanctioned authority. Corporations exist primarily to increase economic efficiency, but they do this in ways that distinguish them from the markets in which they operate. Corporations serve economic ends, but through political means. Because of this, Singer argues that they also must be structured and obliged to uphold the social and political values that enable their existence and smooth-running in the first place: individual autonomy, moral and social equality, and democratic norms and institutions. 

Thomas Mulligan


Like American politics, the academic debate over justice is polarized, with almost all theories of justice falling within one of two traditions: egalitarianism and libertarianism. This book provides an alternative to the partisan standoff by focusing not on equality or liberty, but on the idea that we should give people the things that they deserve.

What Is Classical Liberal History? cover
What Is Classical Liberal History?

Michael J. Douma and Phillip W. Magness, eds. 

Lexington Press 

The book contrasts the classical liberal view on history with conservative, progressive, Marxist, and post-modern views. Each of the eleven chapters address a different historical topic, from the development of classical liberalism in nineteenth century America to the history of civil liberties and civil rights that stemmed from this tradition. Authors give particular attention to the importance of social and economic analysis.

Michael J. Douma 


Creative Historical Thinking
offers innovative approaches to thinking and writing about history. Michael J. Douma makes the case that history should be recognized as a subject intimately related to individual experience and positions its practice as an inherently creative endeavor. Douma asserts history's position as a collective and community-building exercise and argues for the importance of metaphor and other creative tools in communicating about history with people who may view the past in fundamentally different ways. 


Jason Brennan

Princeton University Press

In this trenchant book, Jason Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results—and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government—epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable—may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out.


Markets Without Limits by Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski

Markets Without Limits

Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski


In Markets without Limits, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski give markets a fair hearing. The market does not introduce wrongness where there was not any previously. Thus, the authors claim, the question of what rightfully may be bought and sold has a simple answer: if you may do it for free, you may do it for money. Contrary to the conservative consensus, they claim there are no inherent limits to what can be bought and sold, but only restrictions on how we buy and sell.



Compulsory Voting: For and Against cover

Compulsory Voting: For-and-Against

Jason Brennan and Lisa Hill

Cambridge University Press

Jason Brennan and Lisa Hill debate questions such as: Do citizens have a duty to vote, and is it an enforceable duty? Does compulsory voting violate citizens' liberty? If so, is this sufficient grounds to oppose it? Or is it a justifiable violation? Might it instead promote liberty on the whole? Is low turnout a problem, or a blessing? Does compulsory voting produce better government? Or, might it instead produce worse government? Might it, in fact, have little effect overall on the quality of government?


Why Not Capitalism?

Why Not Capitalism?

Jason Brennan


Most economists believe capitalism is a compromise with selfish human nature. Capitalism works better than socialism, according to this thinking, only because we are not kind and generous enough to make socialism work. If we were saints, we would be socialists. In Why Not Capitalism?, Jason Brennan attacks this widely held belief, arguing that capitalism would remain the best system even if we were morally perfect. Ideal capitalism is superior to ideal socialism, and so capitalism beats socialism at every level. 


Libertarianism cover

Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

Jason Brennan

Oxford University Press

Jason Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the Value of Liberty, Human Nature and Ethics, Economic Liberty, Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Poor, Government and Democracy, and Contemporary Politics. As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Libertarians believe that the rich always capture political power; they want to minimize the power available to them in order to protect the weak. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor.


Jason Brennan

Princeton University Press

Nothing is more integral to democracy than voting. Most people believe that every citizen has the civic duty or moral obligation to vote, that any sincere vote is morally acceptable, and that buying, selling, or trading votes is inherently wrong. In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens--in fact, he argues, many people owe it to the rest of us not to vote. Bad choices at the polls can result in unjust laws, needless wars, and calamitous economic policies. Brennan shows why voters have duties to make informed decisions in the voting booth, to base their decisions on sound evidence for what will create the best possible policies, and to promote the common good rather than their own self-interest. They must vote well--or not vote at all. Brennan explains why voting is not necessarily the best way for citizens to exercise their civic duty, and why some citizens need to stay away from the polls to protect the democratic process from their uninformed, irrational, or immoral votes. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to vote. This book reveals why sometimes it's best if they don't. 


David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan


Using a fusion of philosophical, social scientific, and historical methods, A Brief History of Liberty offers a succinct survey of pivotal moments in the evolution of personal freedom, drawing on key historical figures from John Knox and Martin Luther to Karl Marx and Adam Smith to Roger Williams and Thurgood Marshall. The authors examine how past (if incomplete) successes in the struggle for liberty have led many of us to liberty's "last frontier": internal psychological obstacles to our being as autonomous as we would like to be. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own concepts of personal freedom-- what it is, where it comes from, why they have it, and what it has done for them. 


John Hasnas

Cato Institute

John Hasnas examines the ethical dilemmas raised by over-criminalization. In creating white-collar criminal law, the federal government has eviscerated the liberal safeguards of the traditional criminal law to permit conviction for merely negligent or innocent actions and to circumvent the presumption of innocence, the 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and the attorney-client privilege. Thus, federal criminal law creates serious problems for businesses that wish to respect their employees. Hasnas concludes that the solution to the problem of white collar crime does not rest with more vigorous federal enforcement efforts.


Ed Soule

Roman & Littlefield

Morality and Markets poses the Question: "What morally justifies government intervention in the commercial affairs of private citizens?" Its author, Edward Soule, proposes what he dubs a Regulatory Strategy, a set of rules for determining the moral legitimacy of regulation. The strategy combines the political philosophies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill with economic theory and commercial history. Soule then puts his framework into action, testing the morality of regulation in contemporary commercial disputes, including capital markets and genetically modified foods.