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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Contributors to Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand Interviewed

Don Watkins (the Ayn Rand Institute) has done a series of valuable podcast interviews with a number of the contributors to Blackwell's Companion to Ayn Rand and Her Thoughts. All of those interviewed are past contributors to ARS sessions or members of the ARS board of directors. These include: Gregory Salmieri (Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship/Rutgers University) on editing the volume with the late Allan Gotthelf, and on his contributions to the volume on ethics, especially on Rand's conception of valuing and her defense of egoism: Adam Mossoff (George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School) on his contribution with…

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Adam Mossoff Profiled at Watchdog.org, The Undercurrent

Adam Mossoff. Courtesy of George Mason University. Adam Mossoff (Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason U.), who has served on the ARS's Steering Committee, is the subject of a post by Josh Peterson at watchdog.org, a news site sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. According to Peterson, Mossoff is said to have "become one of the most highly respected intellectual property law scholars in the country, tackling the fundamental questions of what constitutes a private property right and what the government’s role is in ensuring that right." In addition to his usual duties as…

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Teaching Philosophy with Atlas Shrugged: Francisco vs. Hume on Reason and Emotion

Pike's Peak, Colorado Springs. Photo by the author. It's been a while since I last blogged about my class based on Atlas Shrugged. We are now nearly done with two thirds of the semester. This has probably been my most enjoyable teaching experience to date, and not just because I am sympathetic with the philosophy we are discussing. I've fallen in love with the idea of teaching philosophy through fiction. Students are much more intensely drawn into discussing the ideas of a novel whose characters they come to know, even when they do not necessarily agree with the ideas. It…

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Another Critic Who Doesn't Care What Rand Thought or Why She Thought It, Only That She's Wrong

One function of this blog is to address comments made by academics and public intellectuals on Rand's philosophy. Several weeks ago, research psychologist Denise Cummins wrote a piece on a PBS blog about what happens when people attempt to put Rand's ideas into practice. Her aim there was not to engage with Rand's ideas per se, but to discuss what happens when certain ideas are put into practice, and then to explain why these ideas lead to these results. That's a reasonable project to take up with respect to an influential author's views, and since one cannot be a universal…

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A Mostly Bibliographic Note on the Objectivist View of the Arbitrary

In his recent post on epistemic possibility, Ben Bayer attributed to Rand the view that "it is evidence that gives claims their cognitive content, such that without it, there is no claim to be assessed: such 'arbitrary' claims are neither true nor false." This is an idea that often raises a lot of questions and putative counter-examples, some of which have come up in the comments on Ben's post. If there's interest I may address these questions in a future post, but my aim here is different. Since this is an interesting idea that has often (and I think correctly)…

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