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Sam Staley Archive

Sam Staley is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Managing Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University.
Full Biography

Captain America’s Civil War and Political Principle



Captain America: Civil War blasted into U.S. theaters generating $192 million in its first weekend and more than $700 million worldwide. I’ll confess: I almost passed this one up: All I could envision were lots of explosions and major cities crumbling. I had my fill of that with the destruction of the fictional Sokovia...
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“Eye in the Sky” Confronts Complicated Ethics of Drone Warfare



Many have argued that drones–remotely controlled vehicles that shoot missiles or engage in deadly fire against targets–are a particularly dangerous form of waging war because it distances us from the carnage it produces. How can the value of human life be protected if it’s reduced to a video game with “pilots” operating from isolated...
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The Constitutional Economics of the “Divergent” Films



The third installment in the Divergent movie franchise, Allegiant, inserted itself into cinematic pop culture with a whimper on its opening weekend, but the movie seems to be completing a unexpectedly weighty arc on the nature of politics. While almost certainly unintentional, the thematic arc is intriguing because it brings to life the warnings...
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Title IX Privacy Ban Thwarts Campus Sexual Assault Policies



The Big Short’s Oscar Win and Capitalism in Film



My blogging colleague Bob Murphy did a nice job of reviewing The Big Short in January, but the film is worth revisiting in light of its Academy Award win for best adapted screenplay. Nominated for five awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, with fine acting by all the principals in the star-studded cast,...
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The “Joy” of Entrepreneurship



Jennifer Lawrence is up for Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Joy, a film loosely based on the entrepreneurial rise of inventor Joy Mangano. Lawrence may have a shot at the award after her Golden Globe win for Best Actress, and this would strike an important popular culture blow in favor of entrepreneurship....
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How Lord Acton Trumps George Orwell in The Hunger Games



Katniss Everdeen makes a choice in a pivotal scene in Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, that had the potential to elevate her into the pantheon of pro-freedom heroines in contemporary fiction. Unfortunately, neither the book nor the movies leveraged this act to let Everdeen step onto that...
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What “The Hunting Ground” Gets Right and Wrong About Campus Sexual Assault



On Sunday, November 22, 2015, CNN will present The Hunting Ground, an advocacy film about sexual assault on college campuses. This is likely to stir up another national debate on college rape and sexual assault, and my employer, Florida State University, will inevitably be caught in the cross hairs. Does this film get anything...
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Should Gone with the Wind Be Banned?



Tragic events provide platforms for political opportunists—remember we can’t let a good crisis go to waste—and the mass shooting of African Americans by a white racist at a Charleston, S.C., church has created a plethora of opportunities. The one on my radar screen today is New York film critic Lou Lumenick’s argument for banning...
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The Avengers of Civil Society?



While watching the summer blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, I had trouble shaking thoughts from two books not usually connected to action heroes, let alone movies: Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments and C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves. I doubt writer/director Joss Whedon had these social philosophers in mind when he was writing...
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