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Volume 8, No. 2 - Spring 2007

Issue #16


God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion, pp. 169-210

Stephen E. Parrish

Objectivism is committed to atheism. However, Objectivists have done little work in Philosophy of Religion. This article argues that much of the work that they have done is fallacious. In particular, the critique of God that Peikoff gives in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is deeply flawed. If they want to justify their atheism, Objectivists need to rework and revise their arguments; in the final analysis, however, it is doubtful that their efforts will succeed.

Objectivist Atheology, pp. 211- 35

Patrick Toner

Objectivists insist on the primacy of existence—the axiom that existence exists. This axiom is taken to entail that the universe exists independent of any consciousness, human or divine. Objectivists hold that a straightforward consequence of this axiom is that God does not exist. The central argument of this paper is that the Objectivist atheological argument based on the primacy of existence fails. Atheological arguments based on the alleged incoherence of the Divine attributes are at best inconclusive. Theism has not been shown to be incompatible with Objectivism.

Merely Metaphorical?  Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson, and the Language of Theory, pp. 237-60

Stephen Cox

Admirers of Isabel Paterson's political and historical theory have often been critical of her use of imagery drawn from various branches of engineering. An examination of Ayn Rand's comments on this issue introduces important questions about the use of imagistic language in theory and description, the role of imagery in Paterson's theories, and the difficulties that Rand encountered in assessing those theories.


Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America, pp. 261-69

David T. Beito

Stephen Cox's book, The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America, is a well-written, thoughtful, and exhaustively researched biography of a key pioneer in the libertarian movement. Isabel Paterson, who was a mentor to and close friend of Ayn Rand, had an accomplished career in her own right. From the 1920s to 1940s, she was a nationally respected, and sometimes feared, literary critic and best-selling novelist. Her masterwork, The God of the Machine, appeared in the same year as The Fountainhead and The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane.

Recent Writings on Ethics, pp. 271-84

Fred Seddon

This essay reviews three books in the ethics literature of interest to contemporary Rand scholars: Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics by Tara Smith; Ethical Intuitionism by Michael Huemer; and Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness? by Neera Badhwar.

Unilateral Transfers and a Reinterpretation of Objectivist Ethics, pp. 285-90

Eren Ozgen

Kathleen Touchstone's Then Athena Said: Unilateral Transfers and the Transformation of Objectivist Ethics is an intriguing book on unilateral transfers within the context of Objectivism. Touchstone examines Rand's primary social ethic, the Trader Principle—the bilateral exchange of value between independent equals. In reconsidering Rand's thoughts, she raises many arguments and provides thought-provoking insights especially on charity, reproductivity, retaliation and rights. Touchstone reinterprets Objectivism through the prism of economics, applying economic tools such as consumer theory, capital theory, game theory, and decision-making under uncertainty to address the questions she raises.

Reply to tibor r. machan, ERIC MACK, and douglas b. rasmussen:
Objectivity and the Proof of Egoism, pp. 291-303

Robert Hartford

Tibor R. Machan, Eric Mack, and Douglas B. Rasmussen present three differing analyses of Rand's view that the "choice to live" serves as the foundation of her ethical system. Hartford criticizes Machan's view that the choice is a "fundamental commitment." Hartford concludes that  Rasmussen's assertion—that individual self-perfection is the natural end of human choice— cannot validate the choice to live. Hartford claims that Mack's analysis of the "function of valuing" as a bridge of the factual-normative gap can be strengthened. Hartford argues that carefully defining the meaning of "the choice to live" allows proof of its validity.

Rejoinder to Robert Hartford:
A Brief Comment on Hartford
, pp. 305-6

Tibor R. Machan

In response to Robert Hartford's criticisms of his Spring 2006 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay, "Rand and Choice," Machan reiterates the main point: Prior to the choice to live/think, a human being cannot be aware of any principle of ethics. So the choice to live/think cannot rest on such a principle. Only once that choice has been made—however incrementally, gradually, by fits and starts—can one be rationally expected to live a principled life.

Rejoinder to Robert Hartford
Rand's Metaethics, pp. 307-16

Douglas B. Rasmussen

In response to Robert Hartford's criticisms of his Spring 2006 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay, "Regarding Choice and the Foundations of Morality," Rasmussen argues against "the official" interpretation of Rand's ethics as resting on a basic "choice to live."  Drawing from his work with Douglas Den Uyl, Rasmussen argues that Rand's metaethics is best understood in "biocentric," neo-Aristotelian terms: that human choice does not set the context in which it operates and that "man's life qua man" is the natural end of human life.

Putting Humans First? YES!, pp. 317-30

John Altick

In "Putting Humans First?" David Graham and Nathan Nobis question Tibor Machan's critique of the idea of "animal rights." They suggest that Machan does not adequately respond to arguments about the impact of "marginal cases" on theories such as his, which claim that natural rights stem from the manner in which human beings as a species interact with the world. Altick argues that Graham and Nobis' critique is misdirected and that it misses Machan's underlying argument, thus leaving his defense of distinctly human natural rights relatively untarnished.

Rejoinder to John Altick:
Animals and Rights, pp. 331-39

David Graham and Nathan Nobis

In his reply to the Nobis-Graham review of Tibor Machan's book, Putting Humans First, John Altick defends Machan's and Rand's theories of moral rights, specifically as they relate to the rights of non-human animals and non-rational human beings. Nobis and Graham argue that Altick's defense fails and that it would be wrong to eat, wear, and experiment on non-rational—yet conscious and sentient—human beings. Since morally relevant differences between these kinds of humans and animals have not been identified to justify a difference in treatment or consideration, it is wrong to harm animals for these purposes also.




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