Books by GISME Faculty



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.

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When All Else Fails: Resistance, Violence, and State Injustice

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.
Justice and the Meritocratic State book cover

Justice and the Meritocratic State 

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.

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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.

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Creative Historical Thinking

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. 


Against Democracy by Jason Brennan

Against Democracy 

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.


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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. 


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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.


The Ethics of Voting cover

The Ethics of Voting

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. 


A Brief History of Liberty book cover

A Brief History of Liberty

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. 


Trapped by John Hasnas

Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law

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.