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John P. McCaskey

How Best to Attack Ayn Rand’s System

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Following the highest established standards of logic, the most rigorous canonical reasoning, any logic professor can decimate Ayn Rand’s moral and political philosophy in one 45-minute lecture. It took the Harvard professor Robert Nozick only a few paragraphs.

But Rand doesn’t follow the conventional standards of logic. She has her own distinctive method of arguing. If that method is valid, her moral and political philosophy stands. If it is invalid, her whole system comes crashing down.

What is her method and is it valid?

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Logic is the formalization of meaning!

Edit:

Those who aren't familiar with the debate in the philosophy of language and logic and how the analytic synthetic dichotomy relates to it, will not understand Objectivism's criticism.....

Edit:

"In other words, you can defeat Ayn Rand's arguments by refusing to grant meanings to words.

Is that it?"

In other words, by not understanding how the perceptual root/context of differentiation constrains the meaning of concepts, leads to endless debates about essentialism, or worse the complete dismissal or relativizing of meaning.( in the case of the anti Positivist like Kuhn and Fayerabend)

Edited by Plasmatic

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In other words, by not understanding how the perceptual root/context of differentiation constrains the meaning of concepts, leads to endless debates about essentialism, or worse the complete dismissal or relativizing of meaning.( in the case of the anti Positivist like Kuhn and Fayerabend)

I think that's the kind of thing McCaskey is saying as well.

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I understand what McCaskey is getting at, but still. Why "attack" Ayn Rand's philosophy at all? Why not just evaluate it based on its merits, without ever bringing whatever "conventional standards of logic" are, into it.

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The "better" critiques of Objectivism, by far, are the ones that engage it on an epistemological level. Using reason, if you will, to examine reason, is to critique reason, to identify its strengths, as well as where it might more easily be led astray. Evaluating Objectivism at its core, is to evaluate ones own epistemological processes to its core. In doing so, one can hone ones own epistemological processes. Objectivism stands or falls on this merit, and this merit alone, the merit of "what do I know" and "how do I know it".

 

Something to keep in mind when evaluating this brief outline: it is not likely directed to just an Objectivist audience. How many attacks on Objectivism are simply on the periphery, and do not engage directly on the epistemological battlefield. The peripheral skirmishes can't undermine Objectivism. The only thing that could possibly undermine Objectivism would be to discover a fatal flaw at its core, as Objectivism has done by exposing the major weaknesses contained in other philosophical approaches at their core.

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hasn't essentialism been debunked by the likes of Popper et. al

Since the answer to this question really doesn't have to do with anything in the OP and since Oism is an essentialist epistemology, I assume your joking.

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Since the answer to this question really doesn't have to do with anything in the OP and since Oism is an essentialist epistemology, I assume your joking.

 

In Objectivism, Essence is epistemological as opposed to metaphysical or existential.  The reference to Popper notwithstanding, I believe the latter two uses is what Mikee meant.

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