Posts tagged with: epistemology

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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What's wrong with the concept "libertarian"?

The rejection of the label "libertarian" by Rand and subsequent Objectivists is often met with incredulity. "Of course you're libertarians, whether you admit it or not," we're told; "a libertarian is someone who believes that the government should do nothing but protect people against aggression, if there should even be a government at all, and Objectivism holds that the government's only proper function is protecting rights, which amounts to the same thing as protecting against aggression, so by definition all Objectivists are libertarians (even though, of course, not all libertarians are Objectivists)." To see what's wrong with this line of…

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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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The History of Objectivity in Light of Rand's Epistemology and Ethics

Over the years I've heard plenty of people wonder why Ayn Rand would have named her philosophy "Objectivism." Rand is best known in ethics for her advocacy of the virtue of selfishness, and many—especially the philosophically trained—have a hard time understanding why anyone would call this an objective approach to morality. The "objective," after all, is associated with the impersonal, whereas the "subjective" is associated with the self. Over the break I read a book that will help answer that question. In connection with research I've been conducting on various debates in epistemology, I recently came…

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