The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism

Liberty, Free Markets,
and Moral Character

• What is the moral basis for a free market?

• How do individual rights function in a capitalist society?

• What are the moral and philosophic underpinnings of economic thinking?

Details on the 2015 Liberty, Free Markets, and Moral Character conference—which will be held over Memorial Day 2015 (May 21 - May 24) — will be posted in late Fall 2014. Please check back then for more information.

Information about the Summer 2014 conference appears below.


The Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism is pleased to announce that it will be holding its eighth annual summer conference for undergraduate and graduate students on Liberty, Free Markets and Moral Character over Memorial Day Weekend 2014 (May 22 - May 25) on the campus of Clemson University in Clemson, SC. For the first time, this event will be co-sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education.

What is the connection between liberty, free markets, and moral character? Economic thinking provides powerful insights about the world by explaining thatpeople make choices and are driven by incentives. However, it does not tell you why people must make choices or, more importantly, what choices to make.

This seminar turns economic thinking on its head by looking at its foundations through a philosophic lens. What are the moral and philosophic underpinnings of economic thinking? Why do we have to make choices and how does moral character determine the choices people make?

More Information:

Conference Schedule

Thursday, May 22

12:00 pm – 6:00pm: Dorm Room Check-in
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Seminar Check-in and Social

Friday, May 23
7:00 am – 8:30 am: Breakfast
8:00 am – 8:30 am: Check-in
8:30 am – 9:00 am: Welcome
9:45 am – 10:00 am: Break
10:45 am – 11:00 am: Break
11:45 am – 1:15 pm: Lunch
1:15 pm – 2:00 pm: Discussion Groups
2:00 pm – 2:15 pm: Break
3:00 pm – 3:15 pm: Break
4:00 pm – 4:45 pm: Discussion Groups
4:45 pm – 6:15 pm: Dinner
6:15 pm – 7:00 pm: Reading Discussion Groups
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Social

Saturday, May 24
7:00 am – 9:00 am: Breakfast
8:30 am – 9:00 am: Check-in
9:45 am – 10:00 am: Break
10:45 am – 11:00 am: Break
11:00 am – 11:45 am: Activity: The Trading Game
11:45 am – 1:15 pm: Lunch
2:00 pm – 2:15 pm: Break
3:00 pm – 3:15 pm: Break
4:00 pm – 4:45 pm: Discussion Groups
4:45 pm – 6:15 pm: Dinner
6:15 pm – 7:00 pm: Reading Discussion Groups
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Social

Sunday, May 25
7:00 am – 9:00 am: Breakfast
8:30 am – 9:00 am: Check in
9:00 am – 10:30 am: Activity: Find a Better Way
10:30 am – 10:45 am: Break
10:45 am – 11:30: “The Arena” Debate: TBD
11:30 am – 11:45 am: Break
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm: Closing Remarks
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm: Lunch
2:30 pm – 6:00pm: Check out of rooms






Tom Bell

Professor Tom W. Bell earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1993, where he served on the Law Review.  He practiced law first at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the largest law firm in Silicon Valley, and then at the Washington, DC office of Harkins Cunningham LLP, where he had the distinct pleasure of helping to shut down the Interstate Commerce Commission. In 1998, following a stint as Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies at the Cato Institute, Bell joined the faculty of Chapman University School of Law.

Bell coined the term “polycentric law” and has cultivated the field both as an academic and as a consultant to companies building legal systems for new cities. Though best known in academia for his work on high-tech and intellectual property law—winter 2014 will see publication of his book, Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good—Bell has taught a wide range of classes, including Contracts, Property, Torts, Corporations, Business Associations, and Law and Economics.  He frequently writes for The Freeman on issues related to startup cities.


Andrew Bernstein

Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He is the author of The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire (2005); Objectivism in One Lesson: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (2008); Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights (2010); and Capitalist Solutions (2011). He has taught Philosophy at SUNY Purchase, at Marist College, at Hunter College, and at several other New York-area colleges. He has lectured at Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and many other outstanding universities. He is the 2013-14 Hayek Visiting Scholar at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University, where he is writing a new book, entitled: Heroes and Hero Worship: An Examination of the Nature and Importance of Heroism

Craig Biddle

Craig Biddle is editor of The Objective Standard and author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It. He is currently writing a book on the principles of thinking in principles. In addition to writing, he lectures and teaches seminars on ethical and epistemological issues from an Objectivist perspective.

Max Borders

Max Borders is editor of The Freeman magazine and director of content for The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He is also co-founder of the Austin-based Voice & Exit event whose mission is to explore, celebrate, and implement ideas that maximize human flourishing. And Max is author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor. A writer and innovator with a decade of experience in the non-profit world, Max works daily towards a condition of peace, freedom, and abundance for all people.

Aeon Skoble

Aeon J. Skoble is Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Philosophy Department at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, and a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute. He is the author of Deleting the State: An Argument about Government (Open Court, 2008), the editor of Reading Rasmussen and Den Uyl: Critical Essays on Norms of Liberty (Lexington Books, 2008), and the co-editor of Political Philosophy: Essential Selections (Prentice-Hall, 1999) and Reality, Reason, and Rights (Lexington Books, 2011). Besides his academic work, he has frequently lectured and written for the Institute for Humane Studies and the Foundation for 
Economic Education. His main research includes theories of rights, the nature and justification of authority, and virtue ethics. In addition, he writes widely on the intersection of philosophy and popular culture, among other things co-editing the best-selling The Simpsons and Philosophy (Open Court, 2000). Originally from New York, Prof. Skoble received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and his MA and PhD from Temple University.

C. Bradley Thompson

C. Bradley Thompson is a Professor of Political Science at Clemson University and the Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study Capitalism. He received his Ph.D at Brown University, and he has also been a visiting scholar at Princeton and Harvard universities and at the University of London.
Professor Thompson has published five books, including 
Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea
Freedom and School Choice in American Education
• and the award-winning John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty;
He is currently writing two books, one on “The Ideological Origins of American Constitutionalism” and another to be entitled “Our Killing 
Schools: How America’s Government Schools are Destroying the Minds and Souls of our Children.”
Dr. Thompson lectures all over the U.S. and around the world, his op-ed essays have appeared in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, and he appears regularly on television and radio. He is a homeschooling father of 3 children and, most importantly, he 
supports Arsenal Football Club. In a former life, Dr. Thompson played on the 1978 Queen’s University national championship football team in Canada, and in 1980 he placed third in the long jump at the Canadian Track & Field Olympic Trials. 


Feedback from Past Years

“This conference was one of the most interesting and intellectually stimulating experiences I have had—I had the opportunity to meet and engage in intelligent discussions with other students who had my passion for learning, for philosophy, and for the use of reason.” - 2010 Attendee

“The conference was an incredible experience; it is easily the best weekend of my life….The sheer amount of content packed into the lectures was spectacular” - 2010 Attendee

“Everything I wished my college education would have been.” - 2007 Attendee

“Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t think that I got much more than 3 hours of sleep on any given night. Each day was completely stocked to the brim with profound discussions, as well as lectures that were among the best that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. “ – 2009 Attendee

“I cannot begin to explain how refreshing it was to hear professors and students advocate values other than relativism and collectivism.” – 2009 Attendee

“This conference left me more personally and morally enlightened than I have ever felt leaving one of my college classes.” – 2009 Attendee

Printable conference flyer



This year's conference is co-sponsored with the Foundation for Economic Education: