What I’ve Been Reading

Against Fairness by Stephen T. Asma - Frankly, this book has made me more partial to fairness as a moral good. He defends partiality, even "nepotism," on the grounds that it is essential to human nature, and that excessively "rationalist" approaches to morality like utilitarianism, deontology, and justice-as-fairness set inhuman standards that are impossible to … Continue reading What I’ve Been Reading

What I’ve Been Reading

Fiction: Delphi Complete Works of Anton Chekhov - one of these massive collections of out-of-copyright works available on e-reader for pennies. Chekhov's short stories are often just sketches of a moment or a state of mind, illuminated in conversation or internal dialogue. But some have sweeping timelines, and their rapid denouements remind me of Maupassant. … Continue reading What I’ve Been Reading

*The War of the End of the World* by Mario Vargas Llosa

The War of the End of the World is the latest entry on my desert-island list of books. It's the second book by Peruvian novelist, Nobelist, and classical liberal Mario Vargas Llosa that I've read (the other is The Feast of the Goat), and easily the better of the two. It is a fictionalized account … Continue reading *The War of the End of the World* by Mario Vargas Llosa

*The Righteous Mind* by Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt is everywhere these days, giving interviews and TED talks, promoting his working papers in the media, writing for the websites yourmorals.org and civilpolitics.org, and publishing The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Pantheon Books, 2012). A moral psychologist by training, Haidt has successfully cleared the jump … Continue reading *The Righteous Mind* by Jonathan Haidt

*Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics*

Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades by Andrew A. Latham (Routledge, 2012) offers a constructivist interpretation of late-medieval European states and warfare. Latham describes his approach as offering an "explanation-what" or "property" theory rather than an "explanation-why" or causal theory. He is interested in clarifying the nature of … Continue reading *Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics*

Ruger on Zingales on Crony Capitalism

My sometime coauthor William Ruger has a piece in The American Conservative on Luigi Zingales' A Capitalism for the People. He compares Zingales to early Chicago School economist Henry Simons in his willingness to consider unconventional remedies to crony capitalism, lack of competition, and "bigness" more generally: Fast forward to today, and we see another … Continue reading Ruger on Zingales on Crony Capitalism

*Free Market Fairness*

In Free Market Fairness, political philosopher John Tomasi sets forth a new research program in normative political theory that he calls "market democracy." Market democracy triangulates orthodox libertarianism and social-democratic, egalitarian liberalism and, Tomasi hopes, provides a principled moral grounding for a moderate classical liberalism that has room for both a modest welfare state and … Continue reading *Free Market Fairness*

*Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School* by Ralph Raico (updated)

Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School is the latest collection of essays from Ralph Raico, published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Ralph was kind enough to send me a print copy. The introductory, eponymous essay concerns the relationship between Austrianism as an economic methodology and classical liberalism as a political program or ideology. Raico … Continue reading *Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School* by Ralph Raico (updated)

Brief Book Reviews

This post is about three books I've polished off recently, all quite different from one another: Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economy of Development Clusters - nothing to do with industrial districts or network externalities; this is a (mostly) theoretical exploration of the reasons why rulers might choose to invest … Continue reading Brief Book Reviews


My first book, Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy, has been released by McGill-Queen's University Press. Secessionism is the first comprehensive, empirical study of the causes and consequences of contemporary secessionist movements worldwide. It also has a normative component, as I interpret from the empirical results a case for "legalizing secession" in order to reduce the … Continue reading Secessionism

Atlas Shrugged Thoughts

So I finally read Atlas Shrugged (I haven't seen the movie yet). I'd heard about the novel in libertarian circles for a long time, of course, but I'd never read it. I had read some of Rand's nonfiction, and I knew going into Atlas that I disagreed with Rand's philosophy on several fundamental points. Indeed, … Continue reading Atlas Shrugged Thoughts

Orhan Pamuk, Localist

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has been one of my favorite authors since I read Snow a few years ago. Snow is an atmospheric novel set in ethnically mixed eastern Turkey (the city of Kars). The novel paints a picture of a "frontier" city's characters, political and religious intrigues, dilapidated architecture, climate, and topography. While the … Continue reading Orhan Pamuk, Localist

Most Underrated Works of Political Philosophy?

This semester I will be teaching a political philosophy course for the first time since graduate school, and have just finalized my syllabus. For all the ethicists and political philosophers out there - what do you consider to be the most underrated works of political philosophy for each period (ancient, modern, contemporary)? To elaborate, I'm … Continue reading Most Underrated Works of Political Philosophy?

Three Up, One Down

I have three improbable book recommendations for weekend reading, and one book I recommend passing on. The three "ups" I received as gifts, and I must admit I was not hopeful given their rather unpromising titles. I am happy to report I was pleasantly surprised. (A disclaimer: as with every book recommendation I make, I … Continue reading Three Up, One Down