I am the Wang-Fradkin Associate Professor in Philosophy and the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University in Orange County, California. I am also the Director of the Law & Liberal Arts Minor at Chapman University.

From 2014 to 2018, I was a lecturer (assistant professor with tenure) in philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.  

I specialize in political philosophy, normative ethics, and decision/game theory and its applications to ethics and political philosophy. My research focuses on the relation of individual practical rationality to social rules and how those rules are organized into systems of norms and institutions. I am especially interested in how recent work in moral psychology and experimental economics can inform our understanding of how to improve our institutions of self-governance.

I am the author, with Dan Halliday, of The Ethics of Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2020). There is also a companion website EthicsofCapitalism.com, which has online-only bonus chapters, additional readings, and sample course syllabi. The first chapter is available here

I am also the co-author (with the late Jerry Gaus) of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An Introduction  (Princeton University Press, 2021). 

I am currently working on a book that develops and defends the idea of the dynamic society as a competitor to traditional theories of liberalism and its solidaristic alternatives (e.g., populism, nationalism, communitarianism). This book draws on some of my recent work on the open society, which can be found here.

I am the editor, with Michael Moehler, of New Approaches to Social Contract Theory: Liberty, Equality, Diversity, and the Open Society, which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. It features new essays from Christopher Morris, Sharon Lloyd, Ken Binmore, Claire Finkelstein, Ryan Muldoon, Cailin O’Connor, Justin Bruner, Sahar Heydari Fard, Alexis Louass, Alex Schaefer, Michael Moehler, and me. 

Much of my recent work combines philosophical investigation with empirical data, often in the form of behavioral experiments. Shaun Nichols and I are using experiments to test philosophical and psychological accounts of property rights. Our most recent work was published in Cognition.

Erik Kimbrough and I are using experiments to investigate how conventions and moral norms interact.

With Toby Handfield in philosophy and several economists, including Lata Gangadharan, the late Klaus Abbink, and Erte Xiao, how “bad norms” (e.g., norms of anti-social punishment and honor codes) develop, stabilize, and change. Our first paper on this topic was published in Nature Communications.

Some of my other collaborators include Chris Freiman, Gerald Gaus, Julian Garcia, Keith HankinDavid Schmidtz, and Kevin Vallier.

My work has been published in: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The American Journal of Political Science, Nature Communications, Philosophical Studies, The Journal of Politics, Synthese, Human Nature, The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Political Studies, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Biology & Philosophy, Social Philosophy & Policy, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, The European Journal of Philosophy, The Adam Smith Review, and several edited volumes.

Most of my recent publications can be found here

You can contact me at johnthrasher23<at>gmail.com