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The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies begins its second decade


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#1 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:30 AM

A new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has just been published.

Notablog Announcement by Chris Sciabarra

The new issue, dedicated to the memory of one of our founding Advisory Board members, philosopher John Hospers, features exciting essays in Rand studies, including:

Prometheus: Ayn Randís Ethic of Creation, by philosophy professor James Montmarquet

Ayn Randís Economic Thought, by economics professor Samuel Bostaph

A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom, by Dr. Robert Hartford

Ayn Rand, Religion, and Libertarianism, by economics professor Walter Block

The Rewriting of Ayn Randís Spoken Answers, by psychology professor Robert L. Campbell

Essays on Atlas Shrugged, by philosophy professor Fred Seddon



#2 George H. Smith

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:50 AM

A new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has just been published.

Notablog Announcement by Chris Sciabarra


The new issue, dedicated to the memory of one of our founding Advisory Board members, philosopher John Hospers, features exciting essays in Rand studies, including:

Prometheus: Ayn Randís Ethic of Creation, by philosophy professor James Montmarquet

Ayn Randís Economic Thought, by economics professor Samuel Bostaph

A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom, by Dr. Robert Hartford

Ayn Rand, Religion, and Libertarianism, by economics professor Walter Block

The Rewriting of Ayn Randís Spoken Answers, by psychology professor Robert L. Campbell

Essays on Atlas Shrugged, by philosophy professor Fred Seddon


The article on "Ayn Rand's Economic Thought" looks interesting, especially in view of the fact that Rand wrote very little on economics per se. Some of her comments in "What is Capitalism?" intrigue me, even if I don't know quite what to make of them.

Ghs

#3 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 12:31 PM

The article on "Ayn Rand's Economic Thought" looks interesting, especially in view of the fact that Rand wrote very little on economics per se. Some of her comments in "What is Capitalism?" intrigue me, even if I don't know quite what to make of them.

Ghs


George,

You might want to take a look at this article by Richard M. Salsman in the Spring issue of The Objective Standard:

Economics in Atlas Shrugged

I found it fascinating. Unfortunately, only the first part of the article is available for free.

#4 Brant Gaede

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 01:15 PM


The article on "Ayn Rand's Economic Thought" looks interesting, especially in view of the fact that Rand wrote very little on economics per se. Some of her comments in "What is Capitalism?" intrigue me, even if I don't know quite what to make of them.

Ghs


George,

You might want to take a look at this article by Richard M. Salsman in the Spring issue of The Objective Standard:

Economics in Atlas Shrugged

I found it fascinating. Unfortunately, only the first part of the article is available for free.

Well, you can read Atlas Shrugged.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#5 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 01:26 PM

Well, you can read Atlas Shrugged.

--Brant


Yes. I read it. Aside from completely changing my life in every conceivable respect, I didnít think much of it.

Great sex scenes, though.

#6 Robert Campbell

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 11:30 AM

Am I relieved to see this issue finally appear.

The Bostaph article is quite thorough. It focuses on what Rand herself wrote about economic issues, not on the readings in economics that she recommended.


Robert Campbell


#7 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 03:55 PM

For those who have not yet seen it, Robert Campbellsí articleóThe Rewriting of Ayn Randís Spoken Answers--is definitely the highlight of the latest issue of JARS. Campbell does a remarkable job of demonstrating how the Estate of Ayn Rand is continuing to damage her legacy in the name of philosophical purity. One has to think that Ayn Rand herself would have found what is being done under the ďguidanceĒ of her self-appointed heir, Dr. Peikoff, appalling and inexcusable. The latest example, as most OL members no doubt know, involves Robert Mayhewsí distortion of Randís actual words in Ayn Rand Answers. The extent to which Mayhew has altered the actual wording of many of Ayn Randís statements without any apparent justification has to be profoundly disturbing to anyone who cares about historical integrity.

It is simply not possible to accurately ascribe many of the alleged 'quotations' in this book to Ayn Rand. You are not quoting Ayn Rand--you are quoting Robert Mayhewís (often arbitrary) adaptation of Ayn Rand. The title of Mayhewís volume should be changed to Ayn Rand Redacted.

There are other excellent articles in this volume of JARS, but I had to commend Robert for his superb efforts on behalf of genuine Randian scholarship.

Great job, Robert. (Campbell, not Mayhew.)

#8 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 07:48 AM

.
“It must be pointed out that Mises’s own arguments on the subject of economic value are far different from those made by Rand. . . . Rand is actually closer to Menger’s own views on economic value.” That is a conclusion of Samuel Bostaph in his essay “Ayn Rand’s Economic Thought” (JARS V11N1). That has also been the conclusion of Norbert Buechner.

. . .
Buechner argues that Karl Menger’s economic theory is based implicitly on the concept of objective value (in Rand’s sense) in Note 8 on page 318. This and other traits of Menger’s theory receive high praise from Buechner.
. . .

On Mises’ contrasting subjective theory of value in Buechner (2011), see page 30.

Prof. Bostaph discusses “philosophically objective value” and “socially objective value” on pages 26–28 of his essay. Those conceptions authored by Rand enter Buechner’s treatise on pages 99–100 in connection with the theory of price vis-à-vis demand. (See here [scroll down] for basics.)

Bostaph examines Rand’s novels for their economic views. To his general observation that We the Living displays a basic framework of force and its saturating destruction, I add:

. . .
Rand is not out to glorify the capitalist economic system at this stage of her development, and in that, her vision expressed is not so far from Nietzsche as it will be later. In this novel, Rand portrays the narrower circumstance that private business and exchange free of government suppression make it possible for people to live. (See also Mayhew 2004a, 203–5.)
. . .
Mayhew, R. 2004a. We the Living: ’36 and ’59. In Mayhew 2004b.
——., editor. 2004b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.

To Bostaph’s remarks on economics in Atlas Shrugged, I’ll add a note:

. . .
It would be interesting to examine how much of the government initiatives in the Atlas future were reflections of what the US government had initiated during the Roosevelt years in a really big economic crisis. . . .

In addition to the references cited by Bostaph in this essay, I notice this related work: Economics in Atlas Shrugged by Richard Salsman.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 06 September 2011 - 06:20 AM.


#9 Roger Bissell

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 12:31 PM

http://www.nyu.edu/p...barra/notablog/

The following is from Chris Sciabarra's "Notablog" entry of January 31, 2012:

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: New Issue

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies concludes its 11th year with an all-new issue: Volume 11, Number 2. Subscribers should be receiving the issue in the coming weeks. It features these provocative essays:

Sacrifice and the Apocalypse: A Girardian Reading of Atlas Shrugged - Oliver Gerland III

Objectivism and Christianity - Eric B. Dent

The Sim-Dif Model and Comparison - Merlin Jetton

What About Suicide Bombers? A Terse Response to a Terse Objection - Marc Champagne

The Six Million Dollar Rand (Review of 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand) - Neil Parille

Flourishing and Synthesis (Review of Ed Younkins's book, Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society) - Allen Mendenhall

The JARS website features both abstracts and contributor biographies for the current issue.

Those who have been following JARS developments know that it is now our policy to publish back issues on our site, fully accessible and free of charge to all those who visit us online. Since electronic publication of essays from our back issues lags by a full volume, I am pleased to announce today the online availability of Volume 10, Number 2, the culminating "Tenth Anniversary" issue of JARS that presented a terrific symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. The essays are archived here; authors include Stephen R. C. Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed, Peter Saint-Andre, Roger E. Bissell, and Robert Powell.

But please don't wait a year to see our new issue online; it's available now! Subscribe today! You can subscribe via Paypal on our home page or subscription page, or by printing and filling out this form and mailing it in with your check or money order.

I should note also that The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is now being abstracted in a variety of indexes managed by ProQuest. Our scholarly reach is expanding with each newly published issue.
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.

#10 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:28 AM

Robert Hartford asked recently if I have any thoughts on his paper “A Standard for Absolute Freedom” in JARS 11(1):45–62. I have given it a read now. It is some serious thinking about Rand’s philosophy, a perspective on Objectivist ethical and political philosophy that is stimulating for thinking about the logical relations between them. This work is not an extension of Rand’s theory, I would say. It is a somewhat different and worthwhile piecing together of major elements of Rand’s theory. In that respect, it reminds me of Peter Saint-Andre’s “A Philosophy for Living on Earth”* and Ronald Merrill’s “Axioms: The Eight-Fold Way.”*

The Abstract for Bob’s paper says:

This paper derives political freedoms from the ethics of egoism, demonstrates the equivalence of absolute political freedom and Liberty, and advocates absolute political freedom as a moral ideal. Protection of voluntary consent along an individual’s entire politically legitimate valuing chain provides a standard for identifying political freedoms. Actions meeting the standard are political freedoms. Actions violating the standard are violations of political freedom. As a political standard, protection of voluntary consent is presented as superior to either the non-initiation of force or the non-aggression axiom.

I’ll only be remarking on what pops out at me on a first read. There is much else—very possibly of great interest to readers here—that will have to go unmentioned in this quick open note to Bob.

I’ll jump into the stream near the beginning of the paper. You write that self-responsibility, respect, and benevolence are encouraged when, as Rand claims,“both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other.” That self-responsibility and mutual respect are implicated and encouraged under that condition of Rand’s is plain. That benevolence is implicated or encouraged by that condition is not plain. A reference to David Kelley’s Unrugged Individualism would have been natural at this paragraph (p. 46). Tara Smith’s discussion of kindness in Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics is also to your point.

I do not see your paper as substantively at odds with Rand, nor an extension beyond her view, but as a different organization and emphasis. You started at a partial view of the center of her approach to egoism and rights in your quote above, from Galt’s speech. Your further development in the essay has egoism as logical center, and that is a somewhat different choice of center. In Galt’s speech, Rand also writes:

Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow man? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all existence: rationality. I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands: by means of reason. . . . It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs. . . . The only value men can offer me is the work of their mind. (AS 1022–23)

Any rendition of distinctively Objectivist fundamental political philosophy should include Rand’s idea that the life and life-giving rationality of each individual end-in-himself is the fundamental good to be protected by law. She continues from the preceding quote with the argument that force is inimical to rationality, that no one has a right to initiate the use of force, and that every individual has an enforceable right not to be subject to an initiation of force. That rightness of individual life and individual rationality is the ground of a right against initiation of force is the distinctively Objectivist type of individual-rights-based, limited-government libertarianism.*

You write that “a political context involves situations where the parties are unable or unwilling to voluntarily resolve their conflict” (46). That would be widely accepted among political thinkers. However, most today see that as only one of the principal situations behind the political context. They would disagree with your further thesis that “the role of political philosophy is to derive the fundamental principles and the required institutions to properly resolve such conflict” (46). That uniqueness of role needs to be argued for. Rand had an argument for it. Her argument here needs to be assessed, fortified, or reformed; the opposition should be addressed, at least by citations to works of others attempting to address that opposition.

I think you are mistaken, and somewhat askew with Rand, by supposing egoism the prime timber supporting individual rights. That every individual is an end in himself; that rationality is an individual and volitional function for every life; and that force is anti-mind and anti-life: it is from those a distinctively Randian support for individual rights needs to be argued. In Rand’s system, that every individual is a volitionally rational end in himself (because individual life is an end in itself) yields on the one hand Rand’s form of rational egoism. It yields on the other hand Rand’s conception of individual rights. Randian egoism and Randian rights are two branches from a common main.

The remainder of your paper, from page 48 forward, supplies the fill-in needed to form a coherent picture of Rand’s distinctive ethics and theory of rights and liberty. It makes your view distinctively Randian, even if some elements in Rand’s case might be missing or reweighted or reordered. I do not spot anything not in Rand here, except perhaps the idea that correct political freedoms “must be universalizable and compossible.” Even though Rand does not put it in that way, there are ways in which Rand’s treatment contains this requirement. How this requirement is purported and fulfilled in Rand’s theory differs from its treatment by Kant and Rawls looks like a good field for new cultivation. (Cf. pages 114–30 of Khawaja’s 1997 “A Perfectionist-Egoist Theory of the Good” and Mack’s 2006.)

It strikes me as odd again, now for the section “Egoism in a Social Context,” that the prior work of Kelley and Smith I noted above is not acknowledged. It is also odd—now to the point of extremely odd—given your topic, and especially the part concerning my next paragraph, that there is no citation or address of David Kelley’s 1984 paper “Life, Liberty, and Property” (Social Philosophy & Policy 1(2):108–18).

The section in which you distinguish your Randian position from a Rothbardian approach, in which one starts with a non-aggression axiom, seems weak. Your opponents would not disagree with the statements you affirm about fraud, property, and ownership; they would only disagree with your rendition of their view. More generally, it would be off the mark to criticize a physics book for relying on mathematics it does not explain. Similarly, for political philosophy. Rothbard, for example, can have presumptions about valuation and rationality at work in one treatise on political philosophy (For a New Liberty, 1978, upon which you remark) that can be addressed in other work (The Ethics of Liberty, 1982). Or not: as Nozick rightly said, “there are words on subjects worth saying besides last words.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Related: Note, Mack 1998, and the nice survey by Fred Miller “Neo-Aristotelian Theories of Natural Rights” in the festschrift for Tibor Machan (2011).

#11 Merlin Jetton

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:13 AM

Stephen, I believe you should edit your comments to your satisfaction and then submit them for publication in JARS.

#12 Robert Campbell

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 07:23 AM

Seconded!

#13 Robert Hartford

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 09:53 AM

Thirded!

Thanks, Stephen for your thoughtful commentary in post #10. I heartily agree with Merlin Jetton and Robert Campbell that a version of that review would be appropriate for submission to JARS, and the breadth and depth of your knowledge in the subject area would make it a valuable contribution.

The details of the transition from Objectivist ethical theory to Objectivist political theory have never felt satisfactory to me. Rand said when unclear about a concept we should look to the facts that give rise to the concept. That seems like good advice when unclear about a theory as well.

When looking out at existence, I didn’t see any entities, attributes, actions, or relations that could be labeled a “right.” After all a right is a moral principle, not a label that can be attributed to an existent. But, I did see actions that could be labeled “a political freedom” or not. That was the reason I focused on deriving a standard for determining what is, and what is not, a political freedom. I think that that close fidelity to facts made for some interesting analysis.




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