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Jason Brennan
Georgetown University
Jason Brennan
University of Western Ontario
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  1.  50
    Against Democracy: New Preface.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Princeton University Press.
  2.  11
    Against Democracy: New Preface.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Princeton University Press.
    Hobbits and hooligans -- Ignorant, irrational, misinformed nationalists -- Political participation corrupts -- Politics doesn't empower you or me -- Politics is not a poem -- The right to competent government -- Is democracy competent? -- The rule of the knowers -- Civic enemies.
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  3. The Ethics of Voting.Jason Brennan - 2011 - 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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  4.  33
    Markets Without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests.Jason F. Brennan & Peter Jaworski - 2015 - Routledge.
    May you sell your vote? May you sell your kidney? May gay men pay surrogates to bear them children? May spouses pay each other to watch the kids, do the dishes, or have sex? Should we allow the rich to genetically engineer gifted, beautiful children? Should we allow betting markets on terrorist attacks and natural disasters? Most people shudder at the thought. To put some goods and services for sale offends human dignity. If everything is commodified , then nothing is (...)
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  5. Markets Without Symbolic Limits.Jason Brennan & Peter Martin Jaworski - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):1053-1077.
    Semiotic objections to commodification hold that buying and selling certain goods and services is wrong because of what market exchange communicates or because it violates the meaning of certain goods, services, and relationships. We argue that such objections fail. The meaning of markets and of money is a contingent, socially constructed fact. Cultures often impute meaning to markets in harmful, socially destructive, or costly ways. Rather than semiotic objections giving us reason to judge certain markets as immoral, the usefulness of (...)
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  6. The Right to a Competent Electorate.Jason Brennan - 2011 - 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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  7. A Libertarian Case for Mandatory Vaccination.Jason Brennan - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (1):37-43.
    This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the ‘clean hands principle’, a moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposition of unjust harm or risk of harm. (...)
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  8.  17
    When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice.Jason Brennan - 2018 - Princeton University Press.
    Why you have the right to resist unjust government 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. For centuries, almost everyone has believed that we must allow (...)
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  9. Should Employers Pay a Living Wage?Jason Brennan - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 157 (1):15-26.
    This paper critiques many of the leading popular and philosophical arguments purporting to show employers have a duty to pay a living wage. Some of these arguments fail on their own terms. Some are not really about a living wage. The best of them fail to show employers per se owe a living wage; at best, they should that governments should supplement market incomes though a negative income tax or some other redistributive device.
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  10.  70
    How Government Leaders Violated Their Epistemic Duties During the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis.Eric Winsberg, Jason Brennan & Chris W. Surprenant - 2020 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 30 (3):215-242.
    Sovereign is he who provides the exception.…The exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.In spring 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, world leaders imposed severe restrictions on citizens’ civil, political, and economic liberties. These restrictions went beyond less controversial and less demanding social distancing measures seen in past epidemics. Many states (...)
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  11. Scepticism About Philosophy.Jason Brennan - 2010 - 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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  12.  38
    A Handbook of Logic.Joseph Gerard Brennan - 1957 - New York: Harper.
    This handbook introduces the reader both to the tradi tional logic of the syllogism and to modern symbolic logic.
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  13.  29
    In Defense of Openness.Bas Van Der Vossen & Jason Brennan - 2018 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
  14.  77
    Can Novices Trust Themselves to Choose Trustworthy Experts? Reasons for (Reserved) Optimism.Johnny Brennan - 2020 - Social Epistemology 34 (3):227-240.
    Novices face a problem when it comes to forming true beliefs about controversial issues that they cannot assess themselves: Who are the trustworthy experts? Elizabeth Anderson offers a set of criteria intended to allow novices to form reliable assessments of expert trustworthiness. All they need to assess experts is a high-school education and access to the internet. In this paper, I argue that novices face a much harder time using her criteria effectively than we would expect or hope. This problem (...)
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  15. Polluting the Polls: When Citizens Should Not Vote.Jason Brennan - 2009 - 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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  16. Correction To: Does the Demographic Objection to Epistocracy Succeed?Jason Brennan - 2018 - Res Publica 24 (1):157-157.
    The above-mentioned article was published online with an incorrect title. The correct title reads “Does the Demographic Objection to Epistocracy Succeed?”.
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  17.  37
    Why Swing‐State Voting Is Not Effective Altruism: The Bad News About the Good News About Voting ☆.Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  18. How Smart is Democracy? You Can't Answer That Question a Priori.Jason Brennan - 2014 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 26 (1-2):33-58.
    ABSTRACTHélène Landemore claims that under certain conditions, democracies with universal suffrage will tend to make smarter and better decisions than epistocracies, even though most citizens in modern democracies are extremely ignorant about politics. However, there is ample empirical evidence that citizens make systematic errors. If so, it is fatal to Landemore's defense of democracy, which, if it works at all, applies only to highly idealized situations that are unlikely to occur in the real world. Critics of democracy will find little (...)
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  19.  33
    A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination.J. Brennan - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics Recent Issues 44 (1):37-43.
    This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the ‘clean hands principle’, a moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposition of unjust harm or risk of harm. (...)
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  20.  24
    Why Not Capitalism?Jason Brennan - 2014 - Routledge.
    Most economists believe capitalism is a compromise with selfish human nature. As Adam Smith put it, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." 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 (...)
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  21. Political Liberty: Who Needs It?Jason Brennan - 2012 - Social Philosophy and Policy 29 (1):1-27.
    Research Articles Jason Brennan, Social Philosophy and Policy, FirstView Article.
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  22.  28
    Compulsory Voting: For and Against.Jason Brennan & Lisa Hill - 2014 - Cambridge University Press.
    In many democracies, voter turnout is low and getting lower. If the people choose not to govern themselves, should they be forced to do so? For Jason Brennan, compulsory voting is unjust and a petty violation of citizens' liberty. The median non-voter is less informed and rational, as well as more biased, than the median voter. According to Lisa Hill, compulsory voting is a reasonable imposition on personal liberty. Hill points to the discernible benefits of compulsory voting and argues that (...)
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  23. Modesty Without Illusion.Jason Brennan - 2007 - 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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  24.  30
    This Paper Attacks a Strawman but the Strawman Wins: A Reply to van Basshuysen and White.Eric Winsberg, Jason Brennan & Chris Surprenant - 2021 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 31 (4):429-446.
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  25.  40
    Democratic Theory After Sixth Grade.Jason Brennan - 2020 - The Philosophers' Magazine 91:20-25.
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  26. Propaganda About Propaganda.Jason Brennan - 2017 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 29 (1):34-48.
    ABSTRACTJason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works intends to offer a novel account of what propaganda is, how it works, and what damage it does inside a democratic culture. The book succeeds in showing that, contrary to the stereotype, propaganda need not be false or misleading. However, Stanley offers contradictory definitions of propaganda, and his theory, which is both over- and under-inclusive, is applied in a dismissive, highly ideological way. In the end, it remains unclear how much damage propaganda does. Voters in (...)
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  27.  55
    Brief History of Liberty.David Schmidtz & Jason Brennan - 2010 - 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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  28. Classical Liberalism.Jason Brennan & John Tomasi - 2012 - In David Estlund (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press, Usa. pp. 115.
  29. When May We Kill Government Agents? In Defense of Moral Parity.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (2):40-61.
    :This essay argues for what may be called the parity thesis: Whenever it would be morally permissible to kill a civilian in self-defense or in defense of others against that civilian's unjust acts, it would also be permissible to kill government officials, including police officers, prison officers, generals, lawmakers, and even chief executives. I argue that in realistic circumstances, violent resistance to state injustice is permissible, even and perhaps especially in reasonably just democratic regimes. When civilians see officials about to (...)
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  30. For-Profit Business as Civic Virtue.Jason Brennan - 2012 - 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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  31.  6
    Why Swing‐State Voting Is Not Effective Altruism: The Bad News About the Good News About Voting☆.Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - forthcoming - Wiley: Journal of Political Philosophy.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  32.  2
    The Open Texture of Moral Concepts.John M. Brennan - 1977 - Macmillan.
  33.  9
    The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism.Jason F. Brennan, Bas van der Vossen & David Schmidtz (eds.) - 2017 - Routledge.
    Libertarians often bill their theory as an alternative to both the traditional Left and Right. _The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism_ helps readers fully examine this alternative, without preaching it to them, exploring the contours of libertarian thinking on justice, institutions, interpersonal ethics, government, and political economy. The 31 chapters--all written specifically for this volume--are organized into five parts. Part I asks, what should libertarianism learn from other theories of justice, and what should defenders of other theories of justice learn from (...)
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  34. Libertarianism After Nozick.Jason Brennan - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia made libertarianism a major theory in political philosophy. However, the book is often misread as making impractical, question-begging arguments on the basis of a libertarian self-ownership principle. This essay explains how academic philosophical libertarianism since Robert Nozick has returned to its humanistic, classical liberal roots. Contemporary libertarians largely work within the PPE tradition and do what Michael Huemer calls “non-ideal, non-theory.” They more or less embrace rather than reject ideals of social justice, and they (...)
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  35.  36
    Are Adjunct Faculty Exploited: Some Grounds for Skepticism.Jason Brennan & Phillip Magness - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 152 (1):53-71.
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  36.  51
    Moral Philosophy's Moral Risk.Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - 2020 - Ratio 33 (3):191-201.
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  37.  4
    Why Swing‐State Voting Is Not Effective Altruism: The Bad News About the Good News About Voting☆.Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  38.  30
    Against the Moral Powers Test of Basic Liberty.Jason Brennan - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):492-505.
    European Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  39.  25
    Why Not Anarchism?Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - forthcoming - Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
    Recent debates over ideal theory have reinvigorated interest in the question of anarchy. Would a perfectly just society need—or even permit—a state? Ideal anarchists such as Jason Brennan, G.A. Coh...
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  40.  43
    Estimating the Cost of Justice for Adjuncts: A Case Study in University Business Ethics.Jason Brennan & Phillip Magness - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 148 (1):155-168.
    American universities rely upon a large workforce of adjunct faculty—contract workers who receive low pay, no benefits, and no job security. Many news sources, magazines, and activists claim that adjuncts are exploited and should receive better pay and treatment. This paper never affirms nor denies that adjuncts are exploited. Instead, we show that any attempt to provide a significantly better deal faces unpleasant constraints and trade-offs. “Adjunct justice” would cost universities somewhere between an additional $15–50 billion per year. At most, (...)
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  41.  18
    MEG Evidence for Incremental Sentence Composition in the Anterior Temporal Lobe.Jonathan R. Brennan & Liina Pylkkänen - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S6):1515-1531.
    Research investigating the brain basis of language comprehension has associated the left anterior temporal lobe with sentence-level combinatorics. Using magnetoencephalography, we test the parsing strategy implemented in this brain region. The number of incremental parse steps from a predictive left-corner parsing strategy that is supported by psycholinguistic research is compared with those from a less-predictive strategy. We test for a correlation between parse steps and source-localized MEG activity recorded while participants read a story. Left-corner parse steps correlated with activity in (...)
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  42. Rawls' Paradox.Jason Brennan - 2007 - 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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  43.  45
    In Defense of Commodification.Jason Brennan & Peter Jaworski - 2015 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 2 (2):357-377.
    We aim to show anti-commodification theorists that their complaints about the scope of the market are exaggerated. There are we agree things that should not be bought and sold but that’s only because they are things people shouldn’t have or do or exchange in the first place. Beyond that we argue there are legitimate moral worries about how we buy trade and sell but no legitimate worries about what we buy trade and sell. In almost every interesting case where they (...)
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  44. Injustice for All: How Financial Incentives Corrupted and Can Fix the Us Criminal Justice System.Chris W. Suprenant & Jason Brennan - 2019 - Routledge.
    "American criminal justice is a dysfunctional mess. 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, but also on green. The problem is that nearly everyone involved in criminal justice faces bad incentives. "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 (...)
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  45. Market Architecture: It's the How, Not the What.Jason Brennan - forthcoming - Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy.
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  46. Morality, Competition, and the Firm: The Market Failures Approach to Business Ethics by Joseph Heath.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 26 (1):1-4.
    Until Joseph Heath came along, philosophical business ethics was in a bad way. To the extent it’s still in a bad way, perhaps it’s because Heath has had insufficient influence. Before Heath, much of the debate in the field was between two major theories—stockholder and stakeholder theory. Both of these theories are either false, or vacuous and empty, depending on the interpretation. Heath has to some degree rescued the field by providing what is perhaps the only good general theory of (...)
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  47.  36
    If You Can Reply for Money, You Can Reply for Free.Jason Brennan & Peter M. Jaworski - 2017 - Journal of Value Inquiry 51 (4):655-661.
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  48. Choice and Excellence: A Defense of Millian Individualism.Jason Brennan - 2005 - 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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  49.  11
    Why Not Anarchism?Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - forthcoming - Sage Publications: Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
    Politics, Philosophy & Economics, Ahead of Print. Recent debates over ideal theory have reinvigorated interest in the question of anarchy. Would a perfectly just society need—or even permit—a state? Ideal anarchists such as Jason Brennan, G.A. Cohen, Christopher Freiman, and Jacob Levy argue that strict compliance with justice obviates the need for a state. Ideal statists such as David Estlund, Gregory Kavka, and John Rawls think that coercive political institutions serve indispensable functions even in ideal conditions. This paper defends ideal (...)
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  50.  14
    Why Paternalists Must Endorse Epistocracy.Jason Brennan & Christopher Freiman - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (3).
    Recent findings from psychology and behavioral economics suggest that we are “predictably irrational” in the pursuit of our interests. Paternalists from both the social sciences and philosophy use these findings to defend interfering with people's consumption choices for their own good. We should tax soda, ban cigarettes, and mandate retirement savings to make people healthier and wealthier than they’d be on their own. Our thesis is that the standard arguments offered in support of restricting people’s consumption choices for their own (...)
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