Ben Bayer

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.

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.

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 . . .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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