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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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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Recent Work on Epistemic Possibility and the Burden of Proof

It's been a while since I've posted on epistemology. Because I recently came across a paper that touches on a current project of mine in epistemology—one that is also inspired by an idea from Rand—I thought now was a good opportunity to post again about this field. First, the connection to Rand. In the following passage from Atlas Shrugged, Eddie Willers, assistant to Dagny Taggart, breaks the news that a government scientific agency has issued a warning about the safety of a metal that Dagny is using to build an important railroad line: “They . . . You’d…

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Notes on Academic Cordiality

My post in response to Denise Cummins' critique of Rand at PBS appears to have put our new blog on many people's radar screen. In the first few days after the post we experienced something like a 30-fold increase in the level of traffic to the site. The increase in attention to the site has also brought a flood of comments. I'd like to take a moment to explain to commenters how we will handle comments in the future, because this blog is unique compared to other online forums where Rand's ideas are discussed. In response to some commenters on…

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