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StrictlyLogical

Is-Ought - solved by Rand?

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Taking another poll (this does not close any other poll I have started):

The famous (or infamous) Is-Ought problem alleged by philosophers over the years looks at the seeming difficulty of getting to an "Ought" only from what "IS", the apparent issue (as they saw it) of deriving (by any means) that which is prescriptive solely from that which is descriptive.  It is held my some that Ayn Rand solved the Is-Ought problem.

 

1.  In your own words what do you understand the Is-Ought problem to be?  (you can discuss also any errors you believe the thinkers who proposed the problem were guilty of)

2.  Did Ayn Rand solve the Is-Ought problem?

3.  What was Ayn Rand's solution and how does is solve the issue?

   3.I.  What are the main errors, fallacies, failures of the approaches other philosophers which prevented its previous solution?

    3.II.  What about Rand's solution is crucial to overcoming the problem as distinguished from failed approaches?

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Not to stick to your outline:

I'm not convinced that it's a problem. Hume, who raised the issue, said that no number of non-evaluative premises (is-statments) could ever yield an evaluative conclusion (ought-statement). To say that a set of premises can't entail what's not implicit in the premises is a tautology.

A more interesting question is whether evaluative statements can be. like is-statements, i.e. claims of fact that are either true or false. In more modern terminology such statements are natural statements, and the question is whether or not ought-statements can be natural.

Early in the twentieth century, G.E. Moore convinced many philosophers that oughts cannot be natural and that to treat them as such was to commit the "naturalistic fallacy". Many followed up on Moore with explanation of what oughts might be instead: exhortations, commands, emotional self-reports and so on, utterances that look like declarative sentences but really aren't.

Yes, I think that Rand's account shows successfully that oughts can be statements of fact. That living organisms can be helped or harmed is the matter of fact that non-naturalists said you couldn't find.

Rand wasn't the only one to hit on this, though. It all traces back to Aristotle. (Yes, she admired him in other respects, but she said expressly, in The Objectivist Ethics, that he didn't have much of value to offer in ethics. Branden agreed in his NBI basic course, dismissing his writings as "little more than a manual of etiquette".) In the twentieth century, Philippa Foot, a mainstream academic if ever there was, followed a similar line, starting at about the same time as Rand, though I'm confident neither had heard of the other when they first hit on these insights. Foot's last book, Natural Goodness, cites several others who've followed the line. She later came to know of Rand; Tibor Machan, who knew her personally, called the book "a carbon copy of the Objectivist ethics"; he also said she was an intellectual snob, freely acknowledging the insights of her academic colleagues but not Rand's.

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