Lecturer in Economics at James Madison University


About Me

I am a Lecturer in the College of Business at James Madison University, where I have taught introductory courses in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, as well as upper-level electives in History of Economic Thought, Political Economy, and Economics and Ethics. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2016, with fields in Political Economy and History of Economic Thought. I also teach special sections of Introductory Macroeconomics to JMU's international students in the International Study Group program. I wrote my dissertation under Daniel Klein on Adam Smith's theory of property. I live in Harrisonburg, VA with my wife, Emily, our children, John-Paul and Virginia, and our dog, Oliver.

My work on property theory has been published in the Journal of Scottish Philosophy, Econ Journal Watch, and The Independent Review. I focus on historical and conceptual approaches to ownership and argue that our modern perspective - relying on the "bundle of rights" metaphor - understates exclusivity as the primary attribute of property. I build on the work of Thomas Merrill, Henry Smith, Eric Claeys, and other legal scholars who have been writing on this question from a legal perspective in recent decades. I also look at the divergence between how specialists and laypeople think about ownership and argue that the gap is problematic for economists trying to quantify the value of property. In addition to this work, I have listed a few other areas of interest and research below. 


Areas of Interest

The History of Economic Thought

I have written on Adam Smith, Gershom Carmichael, Francis Hutcheson, and other Scottish Enlightenment figures, as well as early 20th century responses to totalitarianism from F.A. Hayek and M. Polanyi. Most recently I have begun to look at Smith’s strange endorsement of the Labor Theory of Value.

Literature and Economics

Connected to my work on property theory, I have written on views of ownership in folk and fairy tales. I have a paper in The Independent Review on how stories can illuminate facets of the institution that might otherwise go unnoticed by specialists.

Political Economy

My research touches on subjects which inevitably involve asking questions about how the market, the government, and society interact with and influence one another. Specifically, I am interested in how property rights are different from contracts in how they facilitate cooperation in society.

Economic PedaGogy

I have an interest connecting my research in the history of economic thought and literature to the classroom. I incorporate an extra helping of the history of economics into my theory courses. I also use fiction and folk tales to illustrate economic concepts for my students, which helps them to connect the textbook to the real world.

Property Theory

In my dissertation, I focused on Adam Smith's theory of property and the challenge to the contemporary "bundle of rights" framework for describing ownership. I draw on the work of legal scholars, notably that of Eric Claeys, to examine an alternative approach to property.

Literature, Philosophy, Theology

When I'm not reading Economics, I'm usually trying to figure out what folks are doing in these other areas! I'm proud of my fiction collection, and constantly go back to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis for refreshment.