Marian Miner Cook

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Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and the Ethics of Capitalism

Wed, March 2, 2022
Dinner Program
Jennifer Burns

Historian and biographer Jennifer Burns, associate professor of history at Stanford University and research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, will draw on original research to explore the ideas and lives of two American icons of capitalism, the novelist Ayn Rand and the economist Milton Friedman. Both supporters of free market capitalism, Rand and Friedman came to different answers on the same perennial questions: What is the morality of capitalism? How can markets be ethically justified?

As one of CMC’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers, Professor Burns will highlight issues in “Civilization and Commerce,” one of the three academic collaboration themes of our special 75th Anniversary celebration. Her lecture is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.

Jennifer Burns is an associate professor of history at Stanford University where she teaches courses on American political, cultural, and intellectual history. She is also a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. Burns graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude majoring in history, and received her Masters and Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Berkeley. From 2007-2012, she was an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher. Based on exclusive access to Rand’s personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand’s unedited letters and journals. It has been favorably reviewed by numerous publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, and the New Yorker.

Currently, Burns is completing an intellectual biography of the Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, relying upon his papers housed at the Hoover Institution.

A popular guest on radio and television programs, Burns has been interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, C-Span’s Book TV, NPR’s Weekend America, and Here & Now. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harvard Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous academic journals. 

Burns enjoys speaking before academic and professional organizations. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Columbia Business School, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the Cato Institute.


View Video: YouTube with Jennifer Burns

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