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John A. Allison takes over as CEO of the Cato Institute

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I have not been able to find that view in Objectivist writings. Do you have some specific text in mind?

You'll find it here:

Remember that Peikoff begins Fact and Value by saying he agrees completely with this. Now I suppose that according to "closed system" doctrine, since this was written after March 6, 1982, neither are necessarily "Objectivist writings". But you're citing OPAR and Tara Smith, so for our purposes I think we can agree that it qualifies.

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There's an obvious mistake about half-way through the video, in one of your text graphics. The "Libertarian = Right-Wing" text is targeted at Peikoff, right? But he's attributing that position to the

I agree. I also wish I could thumbs down everyone who thinks that their independence is defined by how much they stand against Peikoff.

Atlas, Thanks for the information from the Brook-Allison presentation. I don’t know what anarchism has had to do with Cato in the past. All of the many times I have seen representatives from Cato

It looks as if wikipedia did do this 'split' justice.. The content of the few paragraphs posted from 'On Sanctioning the Sanctioners' is very disappointing. (The full text isn't available for free, but Kelley's response is: A Question of Sanction). I'm just reading through it for the first time.

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Whoops, I meant the full text of 'On Sanctioning the Sanctioners' isn't available for free. I think Michael said there were some copyright issues involved. Also the links they provided (on page 3) to Kelley's response were broken, which is why I posted the correct link.

Edited by mdegges
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Jonathan, in #93 you wrote:

I have not been able to find that view in Objectivist writings. Do you have some specific text in mind?

In Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Peikoff writes:

In Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics, Tara Smith writes:

Hello, Stephen.

As against these quotes that you've provided, may I introduce some material from Fact and Value, and then ask whether the tenor, or the intention, or the meaning is consonant?

Evaluation, though it is essential in every field of cognition, is especially urgent in regard to the man-made.


Justice—being an aspect of the principle that every cognition demands an evaluation—requires moral judgment of men and their works across-the-board, with no areas of life excepted or exempted.

Stopping here to emphasize my "take away":

Justice demands a moral judgement of "men and their works" with no exceptions. So I would take this as meaning that one's dealings with the grocer does in fact require a "moral judgement" of the grocer.

In Ayn Rand’s words (from “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?”): “one must know clearly, in full, verbally identified form, one’s own moral evaluation of every person, issue and event with which one deals, and act accordingly.”

In order to "know clearly...one's own moral evaluation of every person...with which one deals," I would suppose that it is necessary for a man to have a moral evaluation of every such person. Does that not follow?

How does one reach a moral evaluation of a person? “A man’s moral character,” Miss Rand writes in “The Psychology of Psychologizing,” “must be judged on the basis of his actions, his statements and his conscious convictions...”

So if this is the formula, and if this kind of evaluation is "especially urgent in regard to the man-made," with "no areas of life excepted or exempted," then doesn't it demand a moral evaluation of the grocer on the basis of "his actions, his statements and his conscious convictions"?

While I recognize that you have Peikoff writing, "If one wants only to buy a quart of milk, therefore, no special assessment of the grocer is indicated; absent information that he is trafficking in illicit or tainted goods, one may legitimately assume that the man is reputable," I am not of the opinion that Peikoff's writings must be consistent with each other.

Furthermore, whatever the value of our "legitimate assumption" that the grocer is "reputable" -- and whether that fulfills our moral imperative to evaluate "every person...with which one deals" or not -- what if an Objectivist were to learn that his grocer was a member of the Libertarian Party (whichever version is held to be morally reprehensible per today's sanctioned interpretations of the Peikoff/Kelley schism)?

In Fact and Value, Peikoff says:

...in the human realm, one must distinguish the rational from the irrational, the thinkers from the evaders. Such judgment tells one whether a man, in principle, is committed to reality—or to escaping from and fighting it. In the one case, he is an ally and potential benefactor of the living; in the other, an enemy and potential destroyer. Thus the mandate of justice: identify the good (the rational) and the evil (the irrational) in men and their works—then, first, deal with, support and/or reward the good; and, second, boycott, condemn and/or punish the evil.

Well, okay. Since the evil is the irrational, and given that adherence to the Libertarian Party is held as irrational, and that the "mandate of justice" is to "boycott, condemn, and/or punish the evil"... the conclusion I would draw is that, should one learn that one's grocer is a Libertarian, it is then "mandated" to break off associations such as frequenting his shop.

Taking "On Sanctioning the Sanctioners" for what it seems to mean, shouldn't one extend one's moral judgement to anyone who continues to frequent the Libertarian Grocer's shop (or at least those who also know that the grocer is a Libertarian)?

For there Peter Schwartz writes (and Peikoff avows that he agrees) that "assisting one's philosophical enemies--i.e., those who hold values fundamentally antithetical to one's own--is ultimately harmful to one's own interests." To purchase from a Libertarian Grocer is "assisting one's philosophical enemies," yes? "And the corollary of this principle is: neither should one sanction the sanctioners of one's philosophical enemies," which would appear to extend our mandated moral judgement to those who knowingly buy their milk from the Libertarian Grocer.

Taking this together with Peikoff's idea that these sorts of moral judgements must be made wherever and whenever one has any such information at all -- "since every fact bears on the choice to live, every truth necessarily entails a value-judgment [...] a process of evaluation is coextensive with and implicit in every act of cognition [...] Justice is an aspect of the principle that cognition demands evaluation; it is that principle applied to human choices and their products. Since man is volitional, evaluation of the man-made is of a special kind: it is moral evaluation" -- it would appear to me that Peikoff and Schwartz are here arguing that "one is required to judge even those with whom one doesn't interact directly," whatever else Peikoff or Tara Smith or Ayn Rand may have written elsewhere.

Am I reading this incorrectly?

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Ninth, concerning #102:

Then I would say Peikoff erred in that sentence, or anyway, in that sentence's insinuation that the views expressed by Mr. Schwartz are all of them entirely true.* Other views of Dr. Peikoff expressed in "Fact and Value" are also not entirely true (a, b, c, d). Nor have they all been proven to be logically implied by the essentials of the Objectivist philosophy. On the concern of not sanctioning evil, the views I quoted from OPAR and from ARNE are better supported by Rand's writings and the logic of the basics.

Now don't get me wrong. I do not take all of the rationale and contours of what Rand, Branden, Peikoff, and Smith have written about sanctioning evil as correct on the subject, because in the first place, I do not think that the basic ethical theory of morality as purely self-interest has yet been shown to be entirely correct.* Of course it is not only for egoistic ethics that “sanctioning of evil” or “sanctioning of good” are concerns to be illuminated and incorporated. For important example, Robert Nozick grapples with this issue somewhere, though I can’t locate it just now.

It is a demerit of any ethical theory if it supports a non-attenuation view of the transitivity of moral sanction across individuals connected further and further from someone (or some organization) committing the evil act or working to do so. I see no evidence that the Objectivist theory of ethics implies any such non-attenuation, whatever the writings of Mr. Schwartz or Dr. Peikoff or Miss Rand state or suggest to the contrary.

Similarly, there has never been any demonstration that nothing at all in Rand’s philosophy can be altered without toppling the philosophy altogether. Say-so is not enough, no matter who says it.


Don, I see your #108 now. I think you can see what I would think about all that from the preceding.

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For some years, The News Hour has invited people affiliated with the Cato Institute to participate in discussions on the program. I was delighted to see last evening that those invitations will be continued with the change in leadership at Cato. There had been some public attention earlier over the concern that with the changes at Cato it would come to be seen as simply a Republican organization and would cease to receive invitations to advocate in forums seeking experts unaligned with political party to address issues. Cato is still in good standing with The New Hour, and this is important, as that public forum is probably the one through which Cato ideas are most widely seen by the general public.

Last evening Neal McCluskey from Cato participated in a discussion of public policy on government-back college student loans. Link.

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ARI can say they had the right position back in the eighties, but the libertarian movement has improved and now they’re willing and eager to engage. It would be bullshit, but fine, they’re going to have to save face.

They sure took their sweet time getting around to this.


1. Has ARI changed its position on libertarianism?

No. But the meaning of the term “libertarian” has been changing over the decades. Consequently, individuals or organizations that today call themselves “libertarian” may or may not hold the ideas we oppose.


Here’s a little detail I didn’t know till now. We all know David Kelley was excommunicated for speaking at Laissez Faire Books. I think there was more to it, but be that as it may. Turns out John Aglialoro was excommunicated for speaking at…wait for it…The Cato Institute.

In Provincial Letters (1656–7)he scolded the Jesuits for using casuistic reasoning in confession to placate wealthy Church donors, while punishing poor penitents. Pascal charged that aristocratic penitents could confess their sins one day, re-commit the sin the next day, generously donate the following day, then return to re-confess their sins and only receive the lightest punishment; Pascal's criticisms darkened casuistry's reputation.

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This being my busiest time of year, the flame war would probably be quite one sided.

It's not like I just applied the term “excommunicated” for the first time to events in the history of Objectivist schismology, and if you follow the link above, you'll see John Aglialoro using it to describe what happened to him for speaking at the Cato Institute. Now you might think the Atlas Shrugged movies are the worst ever made (I don't), but to say that such a long time insider, who has invested millions of his hard earned wealth spreading Objectivism, doesn't know “what the hell” he's talking about...as John Stossel would put it: give me a break.

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  • 5 months later...

Came across this recently:



Very shady analysis. That 20% is a blatant lie. They are comparing apples (US federal budget, which is a tiny chunk of US gov. spending) and oranges (the budgets of the other countries, which make up most of their government spending), to intentionally mislead.

By my calculations, we actually spend a slightly smaller percentage of total government spending on the military budget, than South Korea (because government spending in SK is significantly less than in the US, but still, that graph is a blatant lie).

It was published in April this year. If the new CEO is even trying to raise the standards over there, it's not working.

Edited by Nicky
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Then there is this gem, from the same article:

The average American spends $2,300 on the military, based on the latest data available.

Lol. If people at CATO don't know how federal taxation works, who does?

The average American (the person at exactly the 50% mark of the American income distribution), spends somewhere between 0 and 100 bucks on the military. Everybody under that mark, specifically most of the people who would like that military budget to instead be diverted towards more entitlements, spends exactly nothing.

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  • 1 year later...

It seems that Allison is retiring from CATO. The Marginal Revolution blog excerpts this from a CATO email:


The Cato Institute welcomes Peter Goettler, a former managing director at Barclays Capital, as its new President and CEO, effective April 1. Current CEO John Allison is retiring after more than two exemplary years on the job.

Goettler retired in 2008 as a managing director and head of Investment Banking and Debt Capital Markets, Americas, at Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank, PLC. He also served as chief executive officer for the firm’s businesses in Latin America and head of Global Loans and Global Leveraged Finance. He has been a member of the Cato Institute’s board since last year and a supporter of the Institute for 15 years.


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