Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

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Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
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{{Use mdy dates|date=October 2017}}{{redirect|Objectivist philosophy|objectivity in philosophy|Objectivity (philosophy)|other uses|Objectivism (disambiguation)}}{{Objectivist movement}}Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Rand first expressed Objectivism in her fiction, most notably The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and later in non-fiction essays and books.{{harvnb|Badhwar|Long|2012}} Leonard Peikoff, a professional philosopher and Rand's designated intellectual heir,Contemporary Authors Online, s.v. "Leonard Peikoff." Accessed March 2, 2008.JOURNAL, McLemee, Scott,weblink The Heirs Of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?, Lingua Franca (magazine), Lingua Franca, September 1999, 9, 6, 45–55, later gave it a more formal structure. Rand described Objectivism as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute"."About the Author" in {{harvnb|Rand|1992|pp=1170–71}} Peikoff characterizes Objectivism as a "closed system" that is not subject to change.Objectivism's central tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception (see Direct and indirect realism), that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (see Rational egoism), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.Academic philosophers have mostly ignored or rejected Rand's philosophy.{{harvnb|Sciabarra|2013|p=1}}; {{harvnb|Badhwar|Long|2012}}; {{harvnb|Gotthelf|2000|p=1}}; {{harvnb|Machan|2000|p=9}}; {{harvnb|Gladstein|1999|p=2}}; {{harvnb|Heyl|1995|p=223}}; {{harvnb|Den Uyl|Rasmussen|1984|p=36}} Nonetheless, Objectivism has been a significant influence among right-libertarians and American conservatives.{{harvnb|Burns|2009|p=4}}; {{harvnb|Gladstein|2009|pp=107–08, 124}} The Objectivist movement, which Rand founded, attempts to spread her ideas to the public and in academic settings.{{harvnb|Sciabarra|1995|pp=1–2}}


Rand originally expressed her philosophical ideas in her novels, most notably, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. She further elaborated on them in her periodicals The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Ayn Rand Letter, and in non-fiction books such as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and The Virtue of Selfishness.NEWS, Harriet, Rubin, Ayn Rand's Literature of Capitalism,weblink The New York Times, September 15, 2007, September 18, 2007, The name "Objectivism" derives from the idea that human knowledge and values are objective: they exist and are determined by the nature of reality, to be discovered by one's mind, and are not created by the thoughts one has.{{harvnb|Rand|1967|p=23}} Rand stated that she chose the name because her preferred term for a philosophy based on the primacy of existence—"existentialism"—had already been taken.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=36}}Rand characterized Objectivism as "a philosophy for living on earth", grounded in reality, and aimed at defining human nature and the nature of the world in which we live.

Metaphysics: objective reality

Rand's philosophy begins with three axioms: existence, consciousness, and identity.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=4–11}} Rand defined an axiom as "a statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any further statement pertaining to that knowledge, a statement necessarily contained in all others whether any particular speaker chooses to identify it or not. An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=1040}}. As Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff argued, Rand's argument for axioms "is not a proof that the axioms of existence, consciousness, and identity are true. It is proof that they are axioms, that they are at the base of knowledge and thus inescapable."{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=11}}Rand held that existence is the perceptually self-evident fact at the base of all other knowledge, i.e., that "existence exists." She further held that to be is to be something, that "existence is identity." That is, to be is to be "an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes." That which has no nature or attributes does not and cannot exist. The axiom of existence is grasped in differentiating something from nothing, while the law of identity is grasped in differentiating one thing from another, i.e., one's first awareness of the law of non-contradiction, another crucial base for the rest of knowledge. As Rand wrote, "A leaf ... cannot be all red and green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time... A is A."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=1016}}. Objectivism rejects belief in anything alleged to transcend existence.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=31–33}}Rand argued that consciousness is "the faculty of perceiving that which exists." As she put it, "to be conscious is to be conscious of something", that is consciousness itself cannot be distinguished or grasped except in relation to an independent reality.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=5}} "It cannot be aware only of itself—there is no 'itself' until it is aware of something."{{harvnb|Gotthelf|2000}} Thus, Objectivism holds that the mind does not create reality, but rather, it is a means of discovering reality.{{harvnb|Rand|1990}} Expressed differently, existence has "primacy" over consciousness, which must conform to it. Any other approach Rand termed "the primacy of consciousness", including any variant of metaphysical subjectivism or theism.{{harvnb|Rand|1982|pp=24–28}}Objectivist philosophy derives its explanations of action and causation from the axiom of identity, calling causation "the law of identity applied to action."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=1037}} According to Rand, it is entities that act, and every action is the action of an entity. The way entities act is caused by the specific nature (or "identity") of those entities; if they were different they would act differently. As with the other axioms, an implicit understanding of causation is derived from one's primary observations of causal connections among entities even before it is verbally identified, and serves as the basis of further knowledge.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=14}}

Epistemology: reason

According to Rand, attaining knowledge beyond what is given in perception requires both volition (or the exercise of free will) and adherence to a specific method of validation through observation, concept-formation, and the application of inductive and deductive reasoning. For example, a belief in dragons, however sincere, does not mean reality contains any dragons. A process of proof identifying the basis in reality of a claimed item of knowledge is necessary to establish its truth.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=116–21}}Objectivist epistemology begins with the principle that "consciousness is identification". This is understood to be a direct consequence of the metaphysical principle that "existence is identity."{{harvnb|Rand|1961|p=124}} Rand defined "reason" as "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=22}} Rand wrote, "The fundamental concept of method, the one on which all the others depend, is logic. The distinguishing characteristic of logic (the art of non-contradictory identification) indicates the nature of the actions (actions of consciousness required to achieve a correct identification) and their goal (knowledge)—while omitting the length, complexity or specific steps of the process of logical inference, as well as the nature of the particular cognitive problem involved in any given instance of using logic."{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=36}}According to Rand, consciousness possesses a specific and finite identity, just like everything else that exists; therefore, it must operate by a specific method of validation. An item of knowledge cannot be "disqualified" by being arrived at by a specific process in a particular form. Thus, for Rand, the fact that consciousness must itself possess identity implies the rejection of both universal skepticism based on the "limits" of consciousness, as well as any claim to revelation, emotion or faith based belief.Objectivist epistemology maintains that all knowledge is ultimately based on perception. "Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident."{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=5}} Rand considered the validity of the senses to be axiomatic, and claimed that purported arguments to the contrary all commit the fallacy of the "stolen concept"JOURNAL, Branden, Nathaniel, January 1963, The Stolen Concept, The Objectivist Newsletter, 2, 1, 2, 4, by presupposing the validity of concepts that, in turn, presuppose the validity of the senses.{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=3}} She held that perception, being physiologically determined, is incapable of error. For example, optical illusions are errors in the conceptual identification of what is seen, not errors in sight itself.{{harvnb|Kelley|1986}} The validity of sense perception, therefore, is not susceptible to proof (because it is presupposed by all proof as proof is only a matter of adducing sensory evidence) nor should its validity be denied (since the conceptual tools one would have to use to do this are derived from sensory data). Perceptual error, therefore, is not possible. Rand consequently rejected epistemological skepticism, as she holds that the skeptics' claim to knowledge "distorted" by the form or the means of perception is impossible.The Objectivist theory of perception distinguishes between the form and object. The form in which an organism perceives is determined by the physiology of its sensory systems. Whatever form the organism perceives it in, what it perceives—the object of perception—is reality.{{harvnb|Kelley|1986}}; {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=44–48}} Rand consequently rejected the Kantian dichotomy between "things as we perceive them" and "things as they are in themselves." Rand wrote, "The attack on man's consciousness and particularly on his conceptual faculty has rested on the unchallenged premise that any knowledge acquired by a process of consciousness is necessarily subjective and cannot correspond to the facts of reality, since it is "processed knowledge...[but] all knowledge is processed knowledge—whether on the sensory, perceptual or conceptual level. An "unprocessed" knowledge would be a knowledge acquired without means of cognition."{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=81}}The aspect of epistemology given the most elaboration by Rand is the theory of concept-formation, which she presented in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. She argued that concepts are formed by a process of measurement omission. Peikoff described her view as follows:. The quotes within this passage are of Rand's material elsewhere in the same book.}}According to Rand, "[T]he term 'measurements omitted' does not mean, in this context, that measurements are regarded as non-existent; it means that measurements exist, but are not specified. That measurements must exist is an essential part of the process. The principle is: the relevant measurements must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity."{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=12}}; for more on Rand's theory of concepts see also Kelley, David "A Theory of Abstraction" and "The Psychology of Abstraction", Cognition and Brain Theory vol. vii, no. 3 and 4 (Summer/Fall 1984), and Rasmussen, Douglas B., "Quine and Aristotelian Essentialism," The New Scholasticism 58 (Summer, 1984)Rand argued that concepts are hierarchically organized. Concepts such as 'dog,' which bring together "concretes" available in perception, can be differentiated (into the concepts of 'dachshund,' 'poodle,' etc.) or integrated (along with 'cat,' etc., into the concept of 'animal'). Abstract concepts such as 'animal' can be further integrated, via "abstraction from abstractions", into such concepts as 'living thing.' Concepts are formed in the context of knowledge available. A young child differentiates dogs from cats and chickens, but need not explicitly differentiate them from deep-sea tube worms, or from other types of animals not yet known to him, to form a concept 'dog.'{{harvnb|Rand|1990|pp=15–28}}Because of its view of concepts as "open-ended" classifications that go well beyond the characteristics included in their past or current definitions, Objectivist epistemology rejects the analytic-synthetic distinction as a false dichotomyPeikoff, Leonard. "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy," in {{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=94}} and denies the possibility of a priori knowledge.Peikoff, Leonard. "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy". in {{harvnb|Rand|1990|pp=116–18}}Rand rejected "feeling" as sources of knowledge. Rand acknowledged the importance of emotion for human beings, but she maintained that emotions are a consequence of the conscious or subconscious ideas that a person already accepts, not a means of achieving awareness of reality. "Emotions are not tools of cognition."{{harvnb|Rand|1961|p=64}} Rand also rejected all forms of faith or mysticism, terms that she used synonymously. She defined faith as "the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one's senses and reason... Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as 'instinct,' 'intuition,' 'revelation,' or any form of 'just knowing.'"{{harvnb|Rand|1982|pp=62–63}} Reliance on revelation is like reliance on a Ouija board; it bypasses the need to show how it connects its results to reality. Faith, for Rand, is not a "short-cut" to knowledge, but a "short-circuit" destroying it.{{harvnb|Rand|1961|p=223}}; {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=182–85}}Objectivism acknowledges the facts that human beings have limited knowledge, are vulnerable to error, and do not instantly understand all of the implications of their knowledge.Lecture by Leonard Peikoff, cited in {{harvnb|Sciabarra|1995}}. According to Peikoff, one can be certain of a proposition if all of the available evidence supports it, i.e., it can be logically integrated with the rest of one's knowledge; one is then certain within the context of the evidence.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=171–81}}Rand rejected the traditional rationalist/empiricist dichotomy, arguing that it embodies a false alternative: conceptually-based knowledge independent of perception (rationalism) versus perceptually-based knowledge independent of concepts (empiricism). Rand argued that neither is possible because the senses provide the material of knowledge while conceptual processing is also needed to establish knowable propositions.

Criticisms on epistemology

The philosopher John Hospers, who was influenced by Rand and shared her moral and political views, disagreed with her over issues of epistemology.{{harvnb|Branden|1987|p=323}} Some philosophers, such as Tibor Machan, have argued that the Objectivist epistemology is incomplete.For example, {{harvnb|Machan|2000|pp=134–51}}Psychology professor Robert L. Campbell writes that the relationship between Objectivist epistemology and cognitive science remains unclear because Rand made claims about human cognition and its development which belong to psychology, yet Rand also argued that philosophy is logically prior to psychology and in no way dependent on it.{{harvnb|Rand|1990|p=289}}JOURNAL, Campbell, R. L., Fall 1999, Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology, Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, 1, 1, 107–34,weblink The philosophers Randall Dipert and Roderick Long have argued that Objectivist epistemology conflates the perceptual process by which judgments are formed with the way in which they are to be justified, thereby leaving it unclear how sensory data can validate propositionally structured judgments.JOURNAL, Dipert, Randall R., Spring 1987, Review Essay: David Kelley's Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception, Reason Papers, 12, 57–70,weblink BOOK, Reason and Value: Rand versus Aristotle, Long, Roderick T., Roderick Long, Poughkeepsie, New York, The Objectivist Center, 2000, 978-1-57724-045-7, 49875339, Objectivist Studies Monographs,

{{anchor|Ethics: rational self-interest}}Ethics: self-interest

Objectivism includes an extensive treatment of ethical concerns. Rand wrote on morality in her works The Virtue of Selfishness, We the Living, and Atlas Shrugged. Rand defines morality as "a code of values to guide man's choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=13}}. Rand maintained that the first question is not what should the code of values be, the first question is "Does man need values at all—and why?" According to Rand, "it is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible," and, "the fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=18}}; for more on Rand's metaethics see {{harvnb|Binswanger|1990|pp=58–66}}, {{harvnb|Smith|2000}} and {{harvnb|Gotthelf|Lennox|2010}} Rand writes: "there is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action... It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death..."Rand argued that the primary focus of man's free will is in the choice: 'to think or not to think'. "Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one's consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality—or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=22}}; for more on Rand's theory of volition, see {{harvnb|Binswanger|1991}}; {{harvnb|Branden|1969}}; and {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=55–72}}. According to Rand, therefore, possessing free will, human beings must choose their values: one does not automatically hold one's own life as his ultimate value. Whether in fact a person's actions promote and fulfill his own life or not is a question of fact, as it is with all other organisms, but whether a person will act to promote his well-being is up to him, not hard-wired into his physiology. "Man has the power to act as his own destroyer—and that is the way he has acted through most of his history."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=1013}}Rand wrote, "Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive he must act and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch—or build a cyclotron—without a knowledge of his aim and the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=1012}} In her novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, she also emphasizes the central importance of productive work, romantic love and art to human happiness, and dramatizes the ethical character of their pursuit. The primary virtue in Objectivist ethics is rationality, as Rand meant it "the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=25}}; {{harvnb|Smith|2006|p=7}}The purpose of a moral code, Rand held, is to provide the principles by reference to which man can achieve the values his survival requires.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1989}} Rand summarizes:}}Rand's explanation of values presents the view that an individual's primary moral obligation is to achieve his own well-being—it is for his life and his self-interest that an individual ought to adhere to a moral code.{{harvnb|Smith|2006|pp=23–24}} Ethical egoism is a corollary of setting man's life as the moral standard.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=230}} Rand believed that rational egoism is the logical consequence of humans following evidence wherever it leads them. The only alternative would be that they live without orientation to reality.A corollary to Rand's endorsement of self-interest is her rejection of the ethical doctrine of altruism—which she defined in the sense of Auguste Comte's altruism (he coined the term), as a moral obligation to live for the sake of others. Rand also rejected subjectivism. A "whim-worshiper" or "hedonist," according to Rand, is not motivated by a desire to live his own human life, but by a wish to live on a sub-human level. Instead of using "that which promotes my (human) life" as his standard of value, he mistakes "that which I (mindlessly happen to) value" for a standard of value, in contradiction of the fact that, existentially, he is a human and therefore rational organism. The "I value" in whim-worship or hedonism can be replaced with "we value," "he values," "they value," or "God values," and still it would remain dissociated from reality. Rand repudiated the equation of rational selfishness with hedonistic or whim-worshiping "selfishness-without-a-self." She held that the former is good, and the latter evil, and that there is a fundamental difference between them.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=18}}For Rand, all of the principal virtues are applications of the role of reason as man's basic tool of survival: rationality, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, productiveness, and pride—each of which she explains in some detail in "The Objectivist Ethics."See also {{harvnb|Smith|2006}} The essence of Objectivist ethics is summarized by the oath her Atlas Shrugged character John Galt adhered to: "I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."{{harvnb|Rand|1992|p=731}}

Criticisms on ethics

Many philosophers have criticized Objectivist ethics. The philosopher Robert Nozick argues that Rand's foundational argument in ethics is unsound because it does not explain why someone could not rationally prefer dying and having no values. He argues that her attempt to defend the morality of selfishness is, therefore, an instance of begging the question. Nozick also argues that Rand's solution to David Hume's famous is-ought problem is unsatisfactory. In response, the philosophers Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl have argued that Nozick misstated Rand's case.JOURNAL, Ayn Rand and the Is-Ought Problem, O'Neil, Patrick M., Journal of Libertarian Studies, Spring 1983, 7, 1, 81–99,weblink PDF, JOURNAL, Nozick On the Randian Argument, Den Uyl, Douglas, Rasmussen, Douglas, The Personalist, April 1978, 59, 184–205, Reprinted along with Nozick's article in Reading Nozick, J. Paul, ed., 1981, Rowman & Littlefield.Charles King criticized Rand's example of an indestructible robot to demonstrate the value of life as incorrect and confusing.King, J. Charles. "Life and the Theory of Value: The Randian Argument Reconsidered" in {{harvnb|Den Uyl|Rasmussen|1984}}. In response, Paul St. F. Blair defended Rand's ethical conclusions, while maintaining that his arguments might not have been approved by Rand.JOURNAL,weblink The Randian Argument Reconsidered: A Reply to Charles King, Paul, St. F. Blair, Reason Papers, Spring 1985, 10, September 14, 2011,

Politics: individual rights and capitalism

Rand's defense of individual liberty integrates elements from her entire philosophy.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=354}}; {{harvnb|Sciabarra|1995|p=274}} Since reason is the means of human knowledge, it is therefore each person's most fundamental means of survival and is necessary to the achievement of values.{{harvnb|Bernstein|2009|pp=25–31}} The use or threat of force neutralizes the practical effect of an individual's reason, whether the force originates from the state or from a criminal. According to Rand, "man's mind will not function at the point of a gun."{{harvnb|Rand|1967|p=141}} Therefore, the only type of organized human behavior consistent with the operation of reason is that of voluntary cooperation. Persuasion is the method of reason. By its nature, the overtly irrational cannot rely on the use of persuasion and must ultimately resort to force to prevail.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=310–13}} Thus, Rand saw reason and freedom as correlates, just as she saw mysticism and force as corollaries.{{harvnb|Rand|1982|p=66}} Based on this understanding of the role of reason, Objectivists hold that the initiation of physical force against the will of another is immoral,{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=36}}; {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=310}}; {{harvnb|Smith|1997|pp=143–47}} as are indirect initiations of force through threats,{{harvnb|Smith|1997|pp=150–55}} fraud,{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=319}} or breach of contract.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|pp=129–30}} The use of defensive or retaliatory force, on the other hand, is appropriate.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=126}}; {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=320}}Objectivism holds that because the opportunity to use reason without the initiation of force is necessary to achieve moral values, each individual has an inalienable moral right to act as his own judgment directs and to keep the product of his effort. Peikoff, explaining the basis of rights, stated, "In content, as the founding fathers recognized, there is one fundamental right, which has several major derivatives. The fundamental right is the right to life. Its major derivatives are the right to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness."{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=351–52}}. The Objectivist understanding of rights is explored at length in {{harvnb|Smith|1997}}. "A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=110}} These rights are specifically understood to be rights to action, not to specific results or objects, and the obligations created by rights are negative in nature: each individual must refrain from violating the rights of others.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=355}} Objectivists reject alternative notions of rights, such as positive rights,{{harvnb|Smith|1997|pp=165–82}}; {{harvnb|Touchstone|2006|p=108}} collective rights, or animal rights.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=356–58}}; {{harvnb|Rand|1964|pp=120}} Objectivism holds that the only social system which fully recognizes individual rights is capitalism,{{harvnb|Rand|1967|p=19}} specifically what Rand described as "full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism."{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=37}} Objectivism regards capitalism as the social system which is most beneficial to the poor, but does not consider this its primary justification.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=392–395}}; {{harvnb|Sciabarra|1995|p=284}} Rather, it is the only moral social system. Objectivism maintains that only societies seeking to establish freedom (or free nations) have a right to self-determination.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=103}}Objectivism views government as "the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws;" thus, government is both legitimate and critically important{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=364}} in order to protect individual rights.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|pp=125–28}} Rand opposed anarchism because she saw putting police and courts on the market as an inherent miscarriage of justice.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=112}} Objectivism holds that the proper functions of a government are "the police, to protect men from criminals—the armed services, to protect men from foreign invaders—the law courts, to settle disputes among men according to objectively defined laws," the executive, and legislatures.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=131}} Furthermore, in protecting individual rights, the government is acting as an agent of its citizens and "has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens"{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=129}} and it must act in an impartial manner according to specific, objectively defined laws.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|p=128}}; {{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|pp=364–65}} Prominent Objectivists Peikoff and Yaron Brook have since expressed support for other government functions.WEB,weblink What role should certain specific governments play in Objectivist government? " Podcast " Peikoff, WEB,weblink Interview with Yaron Brook on economic issues in today's world (Part 1). " Featured Podcast " Peikoff, Rand argued that limited intellectual property monopolies being granted to certain inventors and artists on a first-to-file basis are moral because she viewed all property as fundamentally intellectual. Furthermore, the value of a commercial product comes in part from the necessary work of its inventors. However, Rand viewed limits on patents and copyrights as important and held that if they were granted in perpetuity, it would necessarily lead to de facto collectivism.Rand opposed racism and any legal application of racism. She considered affirmative action to be an example of legal racism.{{harvnb|Rand|1964|pp=173–84}}; cf. BOOK, The Other Side of Racism, Wortham, Anne, Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University Press, 1981, 978-0-8142-0318-7, Rand advocated the right to legal abortion.BOOK, Rand, Ayn, Of Living Death, Edited by Leonard Peikoff, The Voice of Reason, New York, New American Library, 1989, 978-0-453-00634-7, The Voice of Reason (book), Rand believed capital punishment is morally justified as retribution against a murderer, but dangerous due to the risk of mistakenly executing innocent people and opening the door to state murder. She therefore said she opposed capital punishment "on epistemological, not moral, grounds."{{harvnb|Rand|2005|pp=45–46}} She opposed involuntary military conscription.{{harvnb|Rand|1967|pp=226–28}} She opposed any form of censorship, including legal restrictions on pornography, opinion or worship, famously quipping; "In the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with a given right's least attractive practitioners".{{harvnb|Rand|1982|pp=173–84}}WEB,weblink Free Speech, Ayn Rand Lexicon, Objectivists have also opposed a number of government activities commonly supported by both liberals and conservatives, including antitrust laws,Greenspan, Alan. "Antitrust" in {{harvnb|Rand|1967|pp=63–71}} the minimum wage, public education,Branden, Nathaniel. "Common Fallacies about Capitalism" in {{harvnb|Rand|1967|pp=89–92}} and existing child labor laws.Hessen, Robert. "The Effects of the Industrial Revolution on Women and Children" in {{harvnb|Rand|1967|pp=110–13}} Objectivists have argued against faith-based initiatives,WEB,weblink Faith-Based Initiatives Are an Assault on Secular Government, Epstein, Alex, February 4, 2003, Ayn Rand Institute, June 19, 2009, displaying religious symbols in government facilities,WEB,weblink The Ten Commandments vs. America, Harry, Binswanger, March 3, 2005, Ayn Rand Institute, June 19, 2009, and the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools.NEWS,weblink 'Intelligent Design' Is about Religion versus Reason, Orange County Register, Keith, Lockitch, December 11, 2005, Rand opposed involuntary taxation and believed government could be financed voluntarily, although she thought this could only happen after other reforms of government were implemented.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=368}}{{harvnb|Rand|1964|pp=135–137}}

Criticisms on politics

Some critics, including economists and political philosophers such as, Murray Rothbard, David D. Friedman, Roy Childs, Norman P. Barry, and Chandran Kukathas, have argued that Objectivist ethics are consistent with anarcho-capitalism instead of minarchism.Childs, Roy (1969). "Objectivism and The State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand"{{harvnb|Barry|1987|pp=128–29}}{{harvnb|Burns|2009|pp=250–51}}WEB,weblink Rothbard, Murray N., Anatomy of the State: What the State Is Not, Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, 1974,

Aesthetics: metaphysical value-judgments

{{See also|Romantic realism}}The Objectivist theory of art flows from its epistemology, by way of "psycho-epistemology" (Rand's term for an individual's characteristic mode of functioning in acquiring knowledge). Art, according to Objectivism, serves a human cognitive need: it allows human beings to grasp concepts as though they were percepts. Objectivism defines "art" as a "selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments"—that is, according to what the artist believes to be ultimately true and important about the nature of reality and humanity. In this respect Objectivism regards art as a way of presenting abstractions concretely, in perceptual form.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=417}}The human need for art, on this view, stems from the need for cognitive economy. A concept is already a sort of mental shorthand standing for a large number of concretes, allowing a human being to think indirectly or implicitly of many more such concretes than can be held explicitly in mind. But a human being cannot hold indefinitely many concepts explicitly in mind either—and yet, on the Objectivist view, needs a comprehensive conceptual framework to provide guidance in life. Art offers a way out of this dilemma by providing a perceptual, easily grasped means of communicating and thinking about a wide range of abstractions, including one's metaphysical value-judgments. Objectivism regards art as an effective way to communicate a moral or ethical ideal.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=422}} Objectivism does not, however, regard art as propagandistic: even though art involves moral values and ideals, its purpose is not to educate, only to show or project. Moreover, art need not be, and usually is not, the outcome of a full-blown, explicit philosophy. Usually it stems from an artist's sense of life (which is preconceptual and largely emotional).{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=426}}The end goal of Rand's own artistic endeavors was to portray the ideal man. The Fountainhead is the best example of this effort.{{harvnb|Barr|2012}} Rand uses the character of Roark to embody the concept of the higher man which she believes is what great art should do - embody the characteristics of the best of humanity. This higher symbolism should be represented in all art; artistic expression should be an extension of the greatness in humanity.Rand held that Romanticism was the highest school of literary art, noting that Romanticism was "based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition," absent which, Rand believed, literature is robbed of dramatic power, adding:}}The term "romanticism," however, is often affiliated with emotionalism, to which Objectivism is completely opposed. Historically, many romantic artists were philosophically subjectivist. Most Objectivists who are also artists subscribe to what they call romantic realism, which is how Rand labeled her own work.{{harvnb|Torres|Kamhi|2000|pp=31–32}}; {{harvnb|Holzer|2005|pp=115–25}}

Development by other authors

{{see also|Objectivist movement}}{{Multiple image|perrow=2|total_width=300
width1=319|height1=425width2=319|height2=425width3=319|height3=425width4=319|height4=425Leonard Peikoff, Tibor Machan, Harry Binswanger, and Tara Smith (philosopher)>Tara Smith have worked on Objectivism since Rand's death.}}Several authors have developed and applied Rand's ideas in their own work. Rand described Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels (1982), as "the first book by an Objectivist philosopher other than myself".Rand, Ayn. "Introduction". In {{harvnb|Peikoff|1982|p=vii}} In 1991, Peikoff published (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand), a comprehensive exposition of Rand's philosophy.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1991|p=iv}} Chris Matthew Sciabarra discusses Rand's ideas and theorizes about their intellectual origins in (Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical) (1995). Surveys such as On Ayn Rand by Allan Gotthelf (1999), Ayn Rand by Tibor R. Machan (2000), and Objectivism in One Lesson by Andrew Bernstein (2009) provide briefer introductions to Rand's ideas.Some scholars have focused on applying Objectivism in more specific areas. Machan has developed Rand's contextual conception of human knowledge (while also drawing on the insights of J. L. Austin and Gilbert Harman) in works such as Objectivity (2004), and David Kelley has explicated Rand's epistemological ideas in works such as The Evidence of the Senses (1986) and A Theory of Abstraction (2001). In the field of ethics, Kelley has argued in works such as Unrugged Individualism (1996) and The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand (2000) that Objectivists should pay more attention to the virtue of benevolence and place less emphasis on issues of moral sanction. Kelley's views have been controversial, and critics Peikoff and Peter Schwartz have argued that he contradicts important principles of Objectivism.{{harvnb|Peikoff|1989}}; {{harvnb|Schwartz|1989}} Kelley has used the term "Open Objectivism" for a version of Objectivism that involves "a commitment to reasoned, non-dogmatic discussion and debate," "the recognition that Objectivism is open to expansion, refinement, and revision," and "a policy of benevolence toward others, including fellow-travelers and critics."WEB,weblink Atlas Society, A Note to Our Members About Open Objectivism, October 17, 2008, Kelley, David, Arguing against Kelley, Peikoff characterized Objectivism as a "closed system" that is not subject to change.JOURNAL, Fact and Value, The Intellectual Activist, May 18, 1989, 5, 1, Leonard, Peikoff,weblink An author who focuses on Rand's ethics, Tara Smith, stays closer to Rand's original ideas in such works as Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), Viable Values (2000), and Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics (2006).WEB, Comments on Tara Smith's Viable Values, May 29, 2009, December 2000,weblink Irfan, Khawaja, ; JOURNAL, Egoism Explained: A Review of Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist, The Objective Standard, Spring 2007, 2, 1,weblink Diana, Hsieh, harv, In collaboration with Peikoff, David Harriman has developed a theory of scientific induction based upon Rand's theory of concepts in The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics (2010).Harriman, David, The Logical Leap, 2010, New American Library.The political aspects of Rand's philosophy are discussed by Bernstein in The Capitalist Manifesto (2005). In Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (1996), George Reisman attempts to integrate Objectivist methodology and insights with both Classical and Austrian economics. In psychology, Professor Edwin A. Locke and Ellen Kenner have explored Rand's ideas in The Selfish Path to Romance: How to Love with Passion & Reason.Locke, Edwin, and Kenner, Ellen, Platform, 2011 Other writers have explored the application of Objectivism to fields ranging from art, as in What Art Is by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi (2000), to teleology, as in The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts by Harry Binswanger (1990).

Intellectual impact

File:Ayn Rand quote, American Adventure, Epcot Center, Walt Disney World.jpg|thumb|right|240px|Quote from Ayn Rand at The American Adventure, in Walt Disney World's EpcotEpcotAccording to one Rand biographer, most people first read Rand's works in their "formative years."BOOK, Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Heller, Anne C., New York, Doubleday, 2009, 978-0-385-51399-9, xii, Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Rand's former protégé Nathaniel Branden referred to Rand's "especially powerful appeal to the young,"JOURNAL, The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand: A Personal Statement, Nathaniel, Branden, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Fall 1984, 24, 4,weblink 29–64, yes,weblink" title="">weblink July 17, 2011, mdy-all, while Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute said Rand "appeals to the idealism of youth."WEB,weblink Onkar, Ghate, The Appeal of Ayn Rand, Capitalism Magazine, February 2, 2008, April 22, 2014, This appeal has alarmed a number of critics of the philosophy.{{harvnb|Gladstein|1999|p=111}} Many of these young people later abandon their positive view of Rand and are often said to have "outgrown" her ideas.BOOK, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, Doherty, Brian, Brian Doherty (journalist), New York, Public Affairs, 2007, 978-1-58648-350-0, 544, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, Supporters of Rand's work recognize the phenomenon, but attribute it to the loss of youthful idealism and inability to resist social pressures for intellectual conformity. In contrast, historian Jennifer Burns, writing in Goddess of the Market (2009), writes some critics "dismiss Rand as a shallow thinker appealing only to adolescents," although she thinks the critics "miss her significance" as a "gateway drug" to right-wing politics.{{harvnb|Burns|2009|p=4}}Academic philosophers have generally dismissed Objectivism since Rand first presented it. Objectivism has been called "fiercely anti-academic" because of Rand's criticism of contemporary intellectuals. David Sidorsky, a professor of moral and political philosophy at Columbia University, writes Rand's work is "outside the mainstream" and is more of an ideological movement than a well-grounded philosophy.NEWS, Harvey, Benjamin,weblink Ayn Rand at 100: An 'ism' struts its stuff, Rutland Herald, May 15, 2005, July 20, 2007,weblink" title="">weblink December 26, 2007, yes, mdy-all, British philosopher Ted Honderich notes that he deliberately excluded an article on Rand from The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Rand is, however, mentioned in the article on popular philosophy by Anthony Quinton).{{harvnb|Honderich|2005|pp=x, 740}} Rand is the subject of entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers,{{harvnb|Salmieri|Gotthelf|2005}} the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,{{harvnb|Hicks|2005}} The Routledge Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Political Thinkers,{{harvnb|Stevens|1998}} and The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy.Mautner, Thomas. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. Penguin Books, 2000, p. 469. Chandran Kukathas writes in an entry about Rand in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The influence of Rand's ideas was strongest among college students in the USA but attracted little attention from academic philosophers." Kukathas also writes her defenses of capitalism and selfishness "kept her out of the intellectual mainstream".{{harvnb|Kukathas|1998}}In recent decades Rand's works are more likely to be encountered in the classroom. The Ayn Rand Society, dedicated to fostering the scholarly study of Objectivism, is affiliated with the American Philosophical Association's Eastern Division.{{harvnb|Sciabarra|1995|p=386n.7}} Aristotle scholar and Objectivist Allan Gotthelf, late chairman of the Society, and his colleagues argued for more academic study of Objectivism, viewing the philosophy as a unique and intellectually interesting defense of classical liberalism that is worth debating.JOURNAL, Uyl, Douglas J. Den,weblink On Rand as Philosopher, Reason Papers, 23, 70–71, 1998, August 8, 2011, In 1999, a refereed Journal of Ayn Rand Studies began.JOURNAL, Jeff, Sharlet, Ayn Rand has finally caught the attention of scholars: New books and research projects involve philosophy, political theory, literary criticism, and feminism, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 45, 31, April 9, 1999, 17–18, harv, Programs and fellowships for the study of Objectivism have been supported at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.{{harvnb|Gladstein|2009|pp=116–17}}; {{harvnb|Burns|2009|p=297}}

See also



Works cited

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Further reading

  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Kelley, David, David Kelley, Ronald, Hamowy, Ronald Hamowy, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism,weblink 2008, SAGE Publications, SAGE; Cato Institute, Thousand Oaks, CA, 10.4135/9781412965811.n221, 978-1412965804, 750831024, 2008009151, 363–64, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, Objectivism,

External links

{{Ayn Rand|state=expanded}}{{Libertarianism}}{{Philosophy topics}}

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