How should philosophy professors approach Ayn Rand?

Skye Cleary (with whom I've had a few brief and pleasant interactions in her capacity as the editor of the APA's bog) recently wrote a piece at Aeon, encouraging philosophers who are disturbed by what they take to be the "pernicious" effects of Rand's ideas to "treat the Ayn Rand phenomenon seriously," because "ignoring it won't make it go away." Vilifying Rand without reading the detail, or demonising her without taking the trouble to refute her, is clearly the wrong approach. I couldn't agree more. In my introduction to A Companion to Ayn Rand, I wrote that The scholarly study…

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New Article by Carrie-Ann Biondi in IAI News on the Enduring Value of Ayn Rand's Philosophy

The members of the ARS's Steering Committee serve three year terms, and 2017 marked the end of Darryl Wright (Harvey Mudd) and Jason Rheins' (Loyola, Chicago) terms on the Committee. To replace them, Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall)and Carrie-Ann Biondi (Marymount Manhatten) have joined the Committee. Professor Mayhew has been a member of the Committee in the past, has frequently served on ARS panels, and he is well-known those interested in the study of Ayn Rand as (among other things) the editor of several posthumously published works by Rand (most recently The Unconquered), and of collections of Essays on each…

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Zwolinski vs. Hicks on Rand's ethics and politics

Recently the Institute for Humane Studies' "Learn Liberty" site featured a debate between Matt Zwolinski (University of San Diego) and Stephen Hicks (Rockford University), both of whom have been participants in past sessions of the Ayn Rand Society. Notably, past ARS contributor Harry Binswanger (the Ayn Rand Institute) has also weighed into the debate in the comments section. Zwolinski leads off the debate by raising critical points about Rand's ethical egoism, the consistency of her egoism with her theory of rights, and her view of property and value-creation. Zwolinski advanced several of these criticisms during his panel on Rand's theory…

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Comments on R.P. Wolff on Rand's Metaphysics

On his popular blog, Brian Leiter (U Chicago) recently posted a link to another blog post by Robert Paul Wolff (UNC, Chapel Hill). Leiter's tongue-in-cheek title, "The Profundity of Ayn Rand," is one of many dismissive treatments of Rand he's posted over the years. Even so, Leiter has not always been dismissive of scholars of Rand. I hope, therefore, that in this same spirit of academic collegiality, he is open to linking to our reaction to Wolff's piece. Wolff notes the widely discussed fact that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has at times claimed to have been influenced by…

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Report on Author Meets Critics session on Tara Smith's Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System

Two weeks ago at the American Philosophical Association's Eastern Division Meeting, the Ayn Rand Society held an "Author Meets Critics" session on Tara Smith's 2015 book Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System. Dr. Smith's critics were Timothy Sandefur (of the Goldwater Institute), Onkar Ghate (of the Ayn Rand Institute), and Mark Graber (of the University of Maryland's School of Law). Mr. Sandefur's comments took the form of a paper that raises a number of interesting questions about the nature of law and its relation to the language in which laws are expressed, and about how an ideally objective judge…

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Discussion of Kant at Cato Unbound

Creative commons-licensed image courtesy of Wikimedia. I've been invited to take part in a discussion at Cato Unbound on Kant's relation to classical liberalism. My post, which went up there today, is a response to a post by Mark D. White (College of Staten Island/CUNY) in which he argues that Kant provided "the ideal statement of classical liberalism." One of the reasons Kant is underappreciated as a classical liberal, in White's opinion, is an unflattering caricature of Kant's ethics for which he holds Ayn Rand largely responsible. Here are a few excerpts from my response: Kant coopted some of…

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