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Adam Mossoff Profiled at Watchdog.org, The Undercurrent

Ben Bayer

Adam Mossoff. Courtesy of George Mason University.

Adam Mossoff (Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason U.), who has served on the ARS's Steering Committee, is the subject of a post by Josh Peterson at watchdog.org, a news site sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. According to Peterson, Mossoff is said to have "become one of the most highly respected intellectual property law scholars in the country, tackling the fundamental questions of what constitutes a private property right and what the government’s role is in ensuring that right."

In addition to his usual duties as a law professor, Mossoff co-founded the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, an academic center at Mason Law, dedicated to the scholarly analysis of intellectual property rights. Professor Mossoff recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of 13 law professors in a pending case before the Supreme Court, his fifth amicus brief that he filed in patent cases in the last seven months. We think Professor Mossoff is also probably the only person affiliated with the Society who has spoken at CPAC and and testified before both the U.S. Senate and the U.S House of Representatives.

Mossoff presented a paper on Ayn Rand's theory of intellectual property at our meeting at the December 2009 APA; and he and Fred Miller (Philosophy, University of Arizona) together presented their paper "Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: An Exposition and Response to Critics" at the April 2014 ARS session at the San Diego APA (which will appear in the next volume of the Ayn Rand Society Philosphical Studies). Another paper on Rand's theory of rights, also co-authored by Fred Miller, appears in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand.

The watchdog.org piece gives a nice overview of Professor Mossoff's contributions to both his academic field and to the contemporary policy debate. It also underscores how Mossoff sees his contributions as essentially applied philosophy:

He said that reading Ayn Rand at a young age, however, was an important influence on him, as were John Locke’s political theories on property – the same theories that influenced the Founding Fathers. While many tech geeks currently occupying academia have seemingly devoted their careers to furthering Silicon Valley’s agenda, Mossoff’s curiosity and inquisitive love of ideas lead him to study how theory applied to the real world.

Mossoff was also interviewed recently in the student publication The Undercurrent, where he touched on a similar theme, reminiscing on his path to a career in legal academia:

“I never did think I was going to go into academia originally,” explained Mossoff. “I thought, ‘philosophy’s interesting, and it’s something I do for fun, but at the end of the day it’s abstract, I want to be in the real world, on the ground, with business and capitalism, making a million dollars!’ But then I took a legal philosophy seminar as an undergraduate, and I was just blown away by it. I thought, ‘Wow, this is where the theoretical rubber hits the practical road! This is where people are asking deep questions about the application of those abstract ideas and principles.” [...]

“I came to realize over that span of time that the legal philosophers, the people I enjoyed reading, and even the ones I disagreed with, they were all law professors. I realized that if I really wanted to continue to do what I wanted to do—to teach, and research and write, to think about making a case for intellectual property as a valid property right—I would need to do it in the field of law as opposed to philosophy. So I jumped ship, I went to law school, and I haven’t looked back since.”

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