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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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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