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Objectivism in Academia

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How are Objectivists treated in the academic arenta? I know nothing about academic philosophy, but I would infer that Objectivists might have a hard time getting along with others in the feild, or even face persecution from their peers. Thoughts?

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It's making some headway. I believe it's Austin that has a Chair for Objectivism. I know some Objectivist group is recognized by the American Philosophical Association. According to many releases from the ARI, Objectivism is being brought up in the classroom as part of the curriculum in something like 60 universities?

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It's making some headway. I believe it's Austin that has a Chair for Objectivism. I know some Objectivist group is recognized by the American Philosophical Association. According to many releases from the ARI, Objectivism is being brought up in the classroom as part of the curriculum in something like 60 universities?

Objectivism is doing better in academia now than it ever has, IMHO. There are a number of tenured Objectivist philosophy professors, and several more working in academia who are not tenured. (Some of the untenured ones, like Andrew Bernstein, are untenured by choice. Some, like Allan Gotthelf at UPitt, are in extended visiting scholar posts. And some, like Greg Salmieri, are simply at the start of their careers.) Tara Smith at UT Austin holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism. Her last book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics was published by Cambridge University Press, one of the most prestigious academic publishers in the world. There is a Center for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson, run by Objectivist professor C. Bradley Thompson. BB&T has funded programs for study of the moral foundations of capitalism in over 50 universities. There are Objectivists working in academia in fields cognate to philosophy, like Eric Daniels in history, or Adam Mossof and Amy Peikoff in law. The Anthem Foundation for the Study of Objectivism finances fellowships for the study of Objectivism at multiple universities. And yes, there is an Ayn Rand Society in the APA.

And that's just off the top of my head!

That isn't to say that Objectivism is popular in academia. But it's possible to be an Objectivist in academia these days, and there's been an impressive growth in both people and support infrastructure over the last five to ten years. I credit John McCaskey's Anthem Foundation, mentioned above, for really getting the ball rolling.

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The 2011 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association will be April 20–23 in San Diego at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel.

The session of the Ayn Rand Society will be April 23rd (6:00–8:00 p.m.). The topic will be Rand and Punishment. The speakers will be David Boonin* and Irfan Khawaja. The session will be chaired by George Sher.*

The first in the series AYN RAND SOCIETY PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES has been issued. Its title is Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand’s Normative Theory, Gotthelf and Lennox, editors (2011).*

The APA general sessions will include a symposium on Uncommon Virtues: Creativity, Productivity, and Pride. The speakers will be Christine Swanton and Allan Gotthelf. The commentators will be Helen Cullyer and Gregory Salmieri. This session will be April 22nd (1:00–4:00 p.m.).

Pride as a Virtue: Learning from Aristotle and Ayn Rand – Allan Gotthelf

ABSTRACT

In this paper I discuss pride as a trait of character and a principle of action. I draw significantly on the analyses by Aristotle and Rand, and endorse and defend their shared thesis that pride is a central moral virtue. In the course of this defense I will explore the value of self-esteem to a human life, and the connection between the virtue of pride and this value of self-esteem. That will position us to examine the roots of the historically frequent attack on pride as a great vice. I will conclude with a brief account of the way in which pride is a precondition both of Aristotelian character-friendship and a genuine romantic love.

Virtues of Creativity and Productivity, Moral Theory, and Human Nature – Christine Swanton

ABSTRACT

In this paper I show the centrality of virtuous creativity and productivity in a life of virtue. Certain tendencies in moral theory have downplayed the distinction between action and production as ethically central, including Aristotle’s distinction between action and production, and his relegating the latter to secondary status. Drawing on insights of Nietzsche, Rand, and the philosopher-psychologist Otto Rank, who was greatly influenced by Nietzsche and for whom creativity is central to self-love and thereby healthy love of other, I show that the creative productive life is central to human nature and the healthy development of the self. However, not all creativity is virtuous: some forms of what Rank calls “creative will” are unproductive, destructive, and expressive of self-contempt. An account of creative and productive virtues is required for what might be called an “ethics of creativity.”

Two other APA general sessions have subjects intersecting Allan Gotthelf’s subject:

A colloquium on Friendship on April 23rd (4:00–6:00 p.m.) comprises the following two papers, with comments from Noell Birondo and John Anders.

Aristotle on the Conditional Final Value of Friends – Matthew Walker

ABSTRACT

Aristotle’s account of the value of friends generates what I call the instrumentality problem: Can Aristotle simultaneously (i) argue that friends possess sufficient final value as to be essential constituents of the happy life, yet (ii) appeal to the utility of friends for eliciting self-awareness as part of his case for (i)? In this paper, I argue that Aristotle’s account of friendship can respond to the instrumentality problem. By adopting a key distinction of Christine Korsgaard’s, I argue for a reading of Aristotle according to which the value of friends for their own sakes—the “final” or “end” value of friends—is (in part) conditional upon their usefulness in eliciting self-awareness. On this reading, Aristotle’s account can reasonably appeal to the utility of friends, but in a way that does not reduce their value to that utility.

Friendship and Enlightenment in Kant – Brian Watkins

ABSTRACT

Kant claims, on the one hand, that friendship is a privileged site for self-disclosure while, on the other hand, he warns that friends should not become excessively familiar with each other. Some have argued that this tension is a result of the difference between the kind of friendship Kant thinks we can achieve and the ideal. By contrast, I argue that, for Kant we have achieved the best kind of friendship not when we find someone with whom to share everything, but, instead, when we find someone with whom we can discuss those things that are actually worth revealing, namely, what we think when we think for ourselves. In other words, the best kind of friends are those who feel free to use their reason and participate together in what Kant calls enlightenment.

A colloquium on Aristotle’s Ethics on April 20th (1:00–4:00 p.m.) includes the following paper, with comments from Corinne Gartner.

Self-Love in the Aristotelian Ethics – Jerry Green

ABSTRACT

The Nicomachean Ethics is nearly universally given pride of place in Aristotle’s ethical corpus. I argue there is at least one topic in Aristotle’s ethics where this is a mistake. In the >Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle presents self-love as the paradigm form of friendship, using it to explain how love of others occurs and why it is an important component of eudaimonia. But self-love has some theoretical problems, one of which is that it cannot be reciprocated the way Aristotle argues friendship requires. In the Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle addresses this worry, and uses it to motivate a modified view from that of the Nicomachean Ethics this change is difficult to explain if the Nicomachean Ethics were Aristotle’s last word on the subject, but makes perfect sense if the Eudemian Ethics were the revised version. This suggests we should follow Aristotle in turning to the Eudemian Ethics for Aristotle’s considered view.

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I credit John McCaskey's Anthem Foundation, mentioned above, for really getting the ball rolling.

Does anyone know who is in charge of the Anthem Foundation now? Since he is umm...not there anymore? I also would appreciate it if someone could update me on the status of that free online course system that they were apparently talking about at the last OCON. I believe someone had told me back then that they said it would be in the 1st quarter of this year?

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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The Ayn Rand Society will have a session Saturday, December 28, at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA in Baltimore.*

The topic is “Rand and Nozick: Moral, Social, and Political Philosophy.”

Lester Hunt and Onkar Ghate will deliver papers.

 

Related writings of mine are 1984 and 2007.

A note from David Kelley on Robert Nozick is here.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please read before the session:

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

Philosophical Explanations, chapters 5 and 6.

Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World, chapter 5.

Edited by Boydstun

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Robert Nozick (1938–2002)

2001 Interview

 

Reading Nozick – Essays on Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Jeffrey Paul, editor (1981)

This collection includes Nozick’s 1971 paper “On the Randian Argument” (which is also contained in Nozick’s own collection Socratic Puzzles and has been put online), and it includes the 1978 response “Nozick on the Randian Argument” by Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen.

 

The Cambridge Companion to Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Ralf Bader and John Meadowcroft, editors (2011)

Edited by Boydstun

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This semester, I am teaching "The Politics and Philosophy of Ayn Rand" in the Political Science department at Brown University. I believe this is the first time a course on Objectivism has been taught in the regular curriculum of an Ivy League university. The syllabus is at http://www.johnmccaskey.com/joomla/index.php/courses/politics-and-philosophy-of-ayn-rand

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This semester, I am teaching "The Politics and Philosophy of Ayn Rand" in the Political Science department at Brown University. I believe this is the first time a course on Objectivism has been taught in the regular curriculum of an Ivy League university. The syllabus is at http://www.johnmccaskey.com/joomla/index.php/courses/politics-and-philosophy-of-ayn-rand

 

Great. I am impressed with all of the comments left on your website reviewing your classes, particularly the course "The Morality of Capitalism". Seems like you are doing a great job, leaving students inspired and enlightened. Probably not a course they are used to. Certainly is not one that I have encountered in my academic studies - not as a course dedicated to the topic, nor as a classroom discussion unless I initiated it.

Edited by thenelli01

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The Ayn Rand Society will have a session Saturday, December 28, at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA in Baltimore.*

The topic is “Rand and Nozick: Moral, Social, and Political Philosophy.”

Lester Hunt and Onkar Ghate will deliver papers.

. . .

 

Our session of the Ayn Rand Society was truly fine. Our secretary Greg Salmeiri announced, for any who had not received the message, that James Lennox has been elected to be co-secretary with Greg. This was our first session since Allan’s death, the first without his presence or remote communication. The ARS had been one of his labors of love, I would say, and I miss him there, and all the year as one of our strong scholars.

 

Our presenter Lester Hunt has been working on a book, for Blackwell, on Robert Nozick’s Anarchy State and Utopia. Our other presenter Onkar Ghate also displayed thorough familiarity with ASU, especially in the Part of our focus, Part I, which concerns Nozick’s derivation of the state from prestate society by an invisible hand-process of hypothetically voluntary and moral steps. The argument shows that the state per se is not necessarily a rights-violating institution, even if every actual state is.

 

I read this book when it came out in 1974. A friend of mine in Chicago had taken a seminar from Nozick at Harvard, and we had many fine discussions of Nozick’s ideas as his various books appeared during his life. I read the early papers on ASU that appeared in The Journal of Libertarian Studies, to which I was a charter subscriber, and I read George Smith’s later paper too, which is titled “Justice Entrepreneurship.” I also read the books of Murray Rothbard and David Friedman on market anarchism, and years later Jan Narveson’s book from the same wing. At the present meeting of APA, I attended an Author-Meets-Critic session for a new book from the individualist anarchist wing of libertarianism authored by Michael Huemer titled The Problem of Political Authority. In 1976 I was a delegate to the Libertarian Party National Convention in New York. One morning there was a brunch in which the issue of market anarchism was briefly discussed by David Friedman, then by Robert Nozick. What a personality after my own heart was Nozick. The mind I had found on his pages matched the soul of the man in life.

 

The papers of Hunt and Ghate were fresh perspectives on ASU. Lester’s title is “Rand and Nozick on Individual Rights.” He delves deeply into Nozick’s conception of side-constraints versus goals and to its points of entry into Nozick’s hypothetical course to the just state. He spots a weak stretch of argument in Nozick that he thinks is better handled by Rand. Onkar’s paper is titled “Rand and Nozick on State of Nature and the Principle of Individual Rights.” He shows that on state-of-nature elements in their political philosophies, Rand’s is closer to Locke’s set of elements than Nozick’s is close to Locke’s set of elements. The elements missing from Nozick’s picture are serious ones in the Objectivist political philosophy. Onkar argued also that Rand should decline so much invisible-hand character concerning state formation, rather, look more to actual histories of their founding, which are deliberate and for specific reasons, and look to actual history of how people have gotten the idea of individual rights, so far as they have, and have deliberately instituted protection of individual rights under law.

 

The ensuing discussion was great and was especially enriched by questions Lester raised concerning Rand’s views. There was an economist present, and his was a needed input. David Kelley and I participated in the discussion. David had to leave early for a reception honoring the fourth and expanded edition, just issued, of The Art of Reasoning at the Norton booth at the book mart. As usual I bought about a dozen books at the mart. If they would stop writing such good books, I might save myself, but I’m doomed. Anyway, we talked on and on at the session, and we were surprised to learn our three hours had passed. These two papers will wind their way into a volume on Rand’s political philosophy in the series Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies.

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Here is a good window to Nozick with regard to political philosophy, by Roderick Long: Robert Nozick, Philosopher of Liberty.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

On 27 December, Ayn Rand Society will have a session on the topic The Moral Basis of Capitalism: Adam Smith, the Austrians, and Ayn Rand. Presenters will be James Otteson, Peter Boettke, and Yaron Brook. The session will be chaired by James Lennox. The session will be 6:30–9:30 p.m. at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. Admission is registration, which unfortunately is steep if you’re not a member of APA.* The papers in this session will join earlier ARS papers in a future ARS book dealing with Rand’s political philosophy.

Edited by Boydstun

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During my time as an undergraduate philosophy major, Rand was mentioned several times. One of my ethics classes used James Rachels' The Elements of Moral Philosophy, which takes Rand seriously but presents a misrepresentation of her argument for egoism. (The professor in this class also presented mistaken interpretations of several other parts of Rand's philosophy.) Another ethics class mentioned Rand but only to assert that she was a nihilist in the sense that she did not believe in ultimate value. I also heard a student say that Ayn Rand was an example of a philosopher who was a logical positivist "if you want to call her a philosopher."

 

So, my impression is that academic philosophers know that Rand is someone they have to address at some point when speaking to undergraduates, but they don't usually make a serious study of her work.

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William, its very common today for Philosophers to cram any notion of objectivity, realism, and foundationalism into a "positivist" category. This is usually within Post Modernist \-anti-positivist circles. (Which is very popular today)

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Here is an audio interview (7/15/15) of Greg Salmieri by Elucidations at the University of Chicago on the topic of Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy.

 

Excellent.

Edited by Boydstun

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This is some very good news for a thinker like me who is outside the academic area.  Before I found this website, I was temporarily active on another general philosophy forum.  I was so shocked at the posts of university students on this other website.  It seemed like they got to the study of Hume, or Ayers, or Wittgenstein, etc. and could not get out of a hole created by an idea that was new to the student and seemed interesting on its face.  All of them seemed to be unaware of Ms. Rand beyond her fiction and were emotionally bitter or angry about the ethics they learned in that fiction.  The few who claimed to be familiar with Aristotelian metaphysics and Objectivist epistemology, couldn't see it thru their post-modern lens of logic and language having metaphysical standing instead of origin in human cognition.  Chomsky's, Neo-Kantian view of innate cognitive content - purely grammatical in Chomsky's view, not extending to Kant's categories - was a very popular idea.

 

It seemed like many people found comfort in ideas in philosophy that allowed, forgave, or created an excuse for a lack of focus or clarity in cognition.

Edited by jacassidy2

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Tibor Machan died this past week, at age 77. In 2011 a festschrift to honor his life work in ideas was issued under the title Reality, Reason, and Rights.*

At the end of the twentieth century, Tibor delivered a paper in Boston to the APA session of the Ayn Rand Society. The theme of the session was “Teaching Ayn Rand in Introductory Courses.” Allan Gotthelf delivered a paper on teaching Rand on free will, and Tibor Machan’s was on teaching Rand’s ethical egoism. Tibor’s paper was published in 2001 in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (V3N1). See also on his layout of Rand’s ethics Chapter 3 of his book Ayn Rand (1999). The dedication page says “For Kate.” My deepest sympathy to Kate and Erin and Thomas and all who loved and admired Tibor. 

In 1975 I studied Tibor’s fine book Human Rights and Human Liberties.* Lately I’ve gotten his Individuals and Their Rights (1989) and his Objectivity – Recovering Determinate Reality in Philosophy, Science, and Everyday Life (2004). I’ve more to learn from him in the days not yet broken.

Chapter 2 of Tibor's Ayn Rand had appeared in my journal Objectivity (V1N4) in 1992. The essay title is "Evidence of Necessary Existence."* (Abstract

From the Introduction of Tibor’s Ayn Rand (1999):

“In addition there have been specialized journals, such as Objectivity—edited by Stephen C. Boydstun—in which Rand’s work is the animating idea for most papers, while others such as Reason Papers—edited by myself—pay frequent attention to works that develop or criticize Rand’s ideas. Any serious student of Rand needs to take a look at the wide array of topics with which the authors of Objectivity grapple, as well as at some of the study groups in cyberspace that regularly conduct extensive seminars and produce substantial papers on or inspired by Rand’s work.

. . .

“In choosing a given person for consideration when that person isn’t hailed by one’s culture, the author reveals his own esteem or respect for that person. The charge often follows that objective treatment of the person is impossible.

“Yet to think this way, to deny objectivity when it is coupled with respect or even admiration, is to confuse objectivity with neutrality or nonpartisanship. A doctor needn’t be neutral about a patient’s ailment in order to be objective in deciding what treatment it requires.”

March 2016'.JPG

Edited by Boydstun

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Prof. Jason Hill has an article here in Salon on his life and Ayn Rand in it. He delivered a paper last January to the session of the Ayn Rand Society at APA in DC. His title was "Biological Collectivism and the Politics of Racial Identity." Greg Salimeri composed a stimulating Comment. I expect both papers will be included in the forthcoming ARS volume on Rand's political philosophy.

 

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Smith's Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System will be the subject of an "Author Meets Critics" session of the Ayn Rand Society on Friday afternoon, January 6, 2017, at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA in Baltimore.

New book The Perfectionist Turn by Rasmussen and Den Uyl is also the subject of an "Author Meets Critics" session at this meeting of the APA. That will be in the evening of that same day.

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Additional reviews of Tara Smith's book Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System are linked here.

I'll not be able to attend the Author Meets Critics session on this work at APA. There is another session "Particularist v. Generalist in Perception Theory" which I need for my own work and which is in the same time slot as the ARS session on Tara Smith's book. In some ways, there are just too many good things in the world.

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The Perfectionist Turn - From Metanorms to Metaethics

Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

This new work is available at half-price until 1/8/17. There will be two Authors-Meet-Critics sessions of this book at the American Philosophical Association Meeting in Baltimore next month.

The Perfectionist Turn offers a defense of perfectionism itself, and demonstrates how ethics can be independent of yet in rapport with politics.” –Fred D. Miller, University of Arizona

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Neera Badhwar was a past presenter at the Ayn Rand Society as well as at David Kelley’s summer seminar. Her 2014 book Well-Being: Happiness in a Worthwhile Life has received two notable reviews: In Ethics and in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Thanks to Stephen Hicks for notice of these reviews. Prof. Badhwar does not mention Ayn Rand in this book. Aristotle is the sage here, filled out by modern experimental psychology, with new perspective and argumentation by the author.

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