Response to Cummins on Rand at PBS

When we launched this blog, I promised that one of its functions would be to combat misrepresentations of Ayn Rand's ideas when they appeared in noteworthy places in the media. Our first opportunity to do this has come up just today. Writing at PBS, respected research psychologist Denise Cummins expresses her fascination with the growing popularity of Rand's ideas among young people. (Incidentally, I've probably met Dr. Cummins before, since I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, where her husband Robert used to be the chair of the department.) Cummins directly implies that if young people continue…

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Teaching Philosophy with Atlas Shrugged: Aristotle and Francisco on Ultimate Ends

I am very privileged to be teaching a course this semester called "Philosophical Themes in Ayn Rand." I've been teaching philosophy in one capacity or another since 2002, but this is the first time I've ever proposed or taught a course focused on Ayn Rand's ideas. The main text of the course is Atlas Shrugged, but I've also assigned a series of secondary readings from classical philosophers whose ideas can be compared or contrasted with Rand's. The purpose of the course is to bring philosophical ideas alive through the reading of a philosophical drama, and to bring Rand's ideas into…

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On Taking A Philosopher Seriously

ARS co-secretary Gregory Salmieri has been interviewed by the student publication The Undercurrent about the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand (which is now available as an E-Book). In the first of a two-part series, Salmieri first summarizes a theme he touches on in the introductory chapter to the volume, which is why and how academia ought to take Rand seriously as a philosopher: The Undercurrent: Early in your new book, A Companion to Ayn Rand, you lament the fact that two generations of academics didn’t take Rand’s work seriously. You frame the book, at least in part,…

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A New Find: Harry Binswanger's 1977 Response to Robert Nozick

One issue I did not mention last week in my review of the revised SEP entry on Ayn Rand was its discussion of one of the most prominent academic critics of Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick. Nozick's 1971 article "On the Randian Argument," originally appeared in The Personalist (the house journal at USC which later became Pacific Philosophical Quarterly) and was subsequently reprinted in his collection Socratic Puzzles. It initiated a series of other articles, including contributions by past ARS presenters, Tibor Machan, Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen. While Nozick's article surveys a number of objections to "the Randian argument,…

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Updates to Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy Entry on Ayn Rand

I was pleased to see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy feature an updated entry on Ayn Rand earlier this week. The piece is authored by past ARS presenter Neera Badhwar (University of Oklahoma) and Roderick Long (Auburn). The entry was originally published in the summer of 2010, and its first major revision was in the fall of 2012. (You can review earlier versions here.) I was happy in 2010 to see this entry finally contributed to the SEP. Fair and accurate encyclopedia entries on Rand for philosophers have been few and far between. The entry in the Routledge Encyclopedia of…

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New Interviews with Tara Smith on Objective Law

As many in our audience may already know, frequent ARS presenter Tara Smith (UT Austin) has a new book out, Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (Cambridge University Press, 2015). The introductory chapter of the Cambridge volume is also available online. Recently a number of items of interest related to Professor Smith's book have popped up on the Internet. Here is a link to an interview she conducted with the student publication The Undercurrent. Since we've recently been discussing the concept of "objectivity" and its relation to Rand's thought, here's an excerpt from that interview that speaks to this…

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