Jason Brennan Brown University
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  • Faculty, Brown University
  • PhD, University of Arizona, 2007.

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  1. Jason Brennan (forthcoming). Condorcet's Jury Theorem and the Optimum Number of Voters. Politics.
    Many political theorists and philosophers use Condorcet's Jury Theorem to defend democracy. This paper illustrates an uncomfortable implication of Condorcet's Jury Theorem. Realistically, when the conditions of Condorcet’s Jury Theorem hold, even in very high stakes elections, having more than 100,000 citizens vote does no significant good in securing good political outcomes. On the Condorcet model, unless voters enjoy voting, or unless they produce some other value by voting, then the cost to most voters of voting exceeds the expected epistemic (...)
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  2. Jason Brennan (forthcoming). Why Liberal States Must Accommodate Tax Resistors. Public Affairs Quarterly.
    Liberal states ought to accommodate conscientious tax resistance for the same reasons they should accommodate conscientious objection to fighting in war. Conscientious objection to fighting is nothing special.
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  3. Jason Brennan (2013). Is Market Society Intrinsically Repugnant? Journal of Business Ethics 112 (2):271-281.
    In Why Not Socialism ?, G. A. Cohen argues that market society and capitalism are intrinsically repugnant. He asks us to imagine an ideal camping trip, which becomes increasing repugnant as it shifts from living by socialist to capitalist principles. In this paper, I expose the limits of this style of argument by making a parallel argument, which shows how an ideal anarchist camping trip becomes increasingly repugnant as the campsite turns from anarchism to democracy. When we see why this (...)
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  4. Jason Brennan (2012). For-Profit Business as Civic Virtue. Journal of Business Ethics 106 (3):313-324.
    According to the commonsense view of civic virtue, the places to exercise civic virtue are largely restricted to politics. In this article, I argue for a more expansive view of civic virtue, and argue that one can exercise civic virtue equally well through working for or running a for-profit business. I argue that this conclusion follows from four relatively uncontroversial premises: (1) the consensus definition of “civic virtue”, (2) the standard, most popular theory of virtuous activity, (3) a conception of (...)
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  5. Jason Brennan (2012). Political Liberty: Who Needs It? Social Philosophy and Policy 29 (1):1-27.
    This paper concerns the question of whether the political liberties tend to be valuable to the people who hold them. (In contrast, we might ask whether the liberties are valuable in the aggregate or are owed to people as a matter of justice, regardless of their value.) Philosophers have argued that the political liberties are needed or at least useful to lead a full, human life, to have one's social status and the social bases of self-respect secured, to make the (...)
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  6. Jason Brennan & John Tomasi (2012). Classical Liberalism. In David Estlund (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press, Usa. 115.
  7. Jason Brennan (2011). The Ethics of Voting. Princeton Univ Pr.
    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 ...
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  8. Jason Brennan (2011). The Right to a Competent Electorate. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):700-724.
    The practice of unrestricted universal suffrage is unjust. Citizens have a right that any political power held over them should be exercised by competent people in a competent way. Universal suffrage violates this right. To satisfy this right, universal suffrage in most cases must be replaced by a moderate epistocracy, in which suffrage is restricted to citizens of sufficient political competence. Epistocracy itself seems to fall foul of the qualified acceptability requirement, that political power must be distributed in ways against (...)
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  9. Jason Brennan (2010). Scepticism About Philosophy. Ratio 23 (1):1-16.
    Suppose a person who is agnostic about most philosophical issues wishes to have true philosophical beliefs but equally wishes to avoid false philosophical beliefs. I argue that this truth-seeking, error-avoiding agnostic would not have good grounds for pursuing philosophy. Widespread disagreement shows that pursuing philosophy is not a reliable method of discovering true answers to philosophical questions. More likely than not, pursuing philosophy leads to false belief. Many attempts to rebut this sceptical argument fail.
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  10. David Schmidtz & Jason Brennan (2010). Brief History of Liberty. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Stimulating and thought-provoking," A Brief History of Liberty" offers readers a philosophically-informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most ...
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  11. Jason Brennan (2009). Polluting the Polls: When Citizens Should Not Vote. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (4):535-549.
    Just because one has the right to vote does not mean just any vote is right. Citizens should not vote badly. This duty to avoid voting badly is grounded in a general duty not to engage in collectively harmful activities when the personal cost of restraint is low. Good governance is a public good. Bad governance is a public bad. We should not be contributing to public bads when the benefit to ourselves is low. Many democratic theorists agree that we (...)
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  12. Jason Brennan (2009). Tuck on the Rationality of Voting: A Critical Note. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (3):1-5.
    This paper argues that Richard Tuck, in his book Free Riding, fails to show it is rational to vote except in unusual cases.
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  13. Jason Brennan (2008). Beyond the Bottom Line: The Theoretical Goals of Moral Theorizing. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 28 (2):277-296.
    Moral theory is no substitute for virtue, but virtue is no substitute for moral theory. Many critics of moral theory, with Richard Posner being one prominent recent example, complain that moral theory is too abstract, that it cannot generally be used to derive particular rights and wrongs, and that it does not improve people's characters. Posner complains that it is thus of no use to legal theorists. This article defends moral theory, and to some degree, philosophical inquiry in general, against (...)
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  14. Jason Brennan (2008). What If Kant Had Had a Cognitive Theory of the Emotions? In Valerio Hrsg v. Rohden, Ricardo Terra & Guido Almeida (eds.), Recht und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants. Walter de Gruyter. 1--219.
    Emotional cognitivists, such as the Stoics and Aristotle, hold that emotions have cognitive content, whereas noncognitivists, like Plato and Kant, believe the emotions to be nonrational bodily movements. I ask, taking Martha Nussbaum's account of cognitivism, what if Kant had become convinced of a cognitive theory of the emotions, what changes would this require in his moral philosophy. Surprisingly, since this represents a radical shift in his psychology, it changes almost nothing. I show that Kant's account of continence, virtue, the (...)
     
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  15. Jason Brennan (2007). Dominating Nature. Environmental Values 16 (4):513-528.
    Something is wrong with the desire to dominate nature. In this paper, I explain both the causes and solution to anti-environmental attitudes within the framework of Hegel's master–slave dialectic. I argue that the master–slave dialectic (interpreted as a metaphor, rather than literally) can provide reasons against taking an attitude of domination, and instead gives reasons to seek to be worthy of respect from nature, though nature cannot, of course, respect us. I then discuss what the social and economic conditions of (...)
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  16. Jason Brennan (2007). Free Will in the Block Universe. Philosophia 35 (2):207-217.
    Carl Hoefer has argued that determinism in block universes does not privilege any particular time slice as the fundamental determiner of other time slices. He concludes from this that our actions are free, insofar as they are pieces of time slices we may legitimately regard as fundamental determiners. However, I argue that Hoefer does not adequately deal with certain remaining problems. For one, there remain pervasive asymmetries in causation and the macroscopic efficacy of our actions. I suggest that what Hoefer (...)
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  17. Jason Brennan (2007). Modesty Without Illusion. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):111–128.
    The common image of the fully virtuous person is of someone with perfect self-command and self-perception, who always makes correct evaluations. However, modesty appears to be areal virtue, and it seems contradictory for someone to believe that she is modest. Accordingly, traditional defenders of phronesis (the view that virtue involves practical wisdom) deny that modesty is a virtue, while defenders of modesty such as Julia Driver deny that phronesis is required for virtue. I offer a new theory of modesty-the two (...)
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  18. Jason Brennan (2007). Modesty Without Illusion. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (3):111-128.
    The common image of the fully virtuous person is of someone with perfect self- command and self-perception, who always makes correct evaluations. However, modesty appears to be a real virtue, and it seems contradictory for someone to believe that she is modest. Accordingly, traditional defenders of phronesis (the view that virtue involves practical wisdom) deny that modesty is a virtue, while defenders of modesty such as Julia Driver deny that phronesis is required for vir- tue. I offer a new theory (...)
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  19. Jason Brennan (2007). Modesty Without Illusion. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):111-128.
    The common image of the fully virtuous person is of someone with perfect self-command and self-perception, who always makes correct evaluations. However, modesty appears to be areal virtue, and it seems contradictory for someone to believe that she is modest. Accordingly, traditional defenders of phronesis (the view that virtue involves practical wisdom) deny that modesty is a virtue, while defenders of modesty such as Julia Driver deny that phronesis is required for virtue. I offer a new theory of modesty-the two (...)
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  20. Jason Brennan (2007). Rawls' Paradox. Constitutional Political Economy 18:287-299.
    Rawls’ theory of justice is paradoxical, for it requires a society to aim directly to maximize the basic goods received by the least advantaged even if directly aiming is self-defeating. Rawls’ reasons for rejecting capitalist systems commit him to holding that a society must not merely maximize the goods received by the least advantaged, but must do so via specific institutions. By Rawls’ own premises, in the long run directly aiming to satisfy the difference principle is contrary to the interests (...)
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  21. Jason Brennan (2005). Choice and Excellence: A Defense of Millian Individualism. Social Theory and Practice 31 (4):483-498.
    Communitarians have argued against Millian individualism (ethical liberalism) by claiming that it leads to the compartmentalization of life, and thus inhibits virtue, that it causes alienation, and leads to what I call the problem of choice. Ethical liberals celebrate the free choice of a conception of the good life, but communitarians respond by posing a dilemma. Either the choice is made in reference to some given standard (a social or natural telos), in which case it is not free, or it (...)
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