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Research

The Atlas Society’s founding commitment is to advance the philosophy of Objectivism in a spirit of intellectual toleration and openness to innovation. Our open Objectivism allows us to support scholarship and research that is innovative, questioning, and intellectually serious. We feature that work on these pages.

 

Select Research Articles and Monographs


      Philosophical Studies

      Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness? by Neera Badhwar et al. (PDF, 2001)
      This volume includes the title essay by Badhwar, three commentary essays by Jay Friendenberg, Lester H. Hunt, and David Kelley, and a reply by Badhwar. It debates the relationship between virtue and happiness in Ayn Rand's writings and those of her Objectivist followers. Was Ayn Rand right that “emotions are not tools of cognition”? Is virtue a constitutive component of the ultimate good or a means to it? Read the debate and consider these issues. Objectivist Studies 4, 2001. Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.
       
      Is High Self-Esteem Bad for You? by Robert Campbell and Walter Foddis (July/August, 2003)
      Self-esteem is a cardinal value of the Objectivist ethics. Psychologists Campbell and Foddis criticize studies that claim that self-esteem is a harmful trait. They charge researchers with misunderstanding self-esteem. Originally printed in Navigator, 6 (7–8), July/August 2003, 8–12.
       
      Cox argues that Ayn Rand's literary theory is capable of significant development and extension. Particularly worthy of study are relationships between literary principles and literary practices, such as the creation of implicit or explicit patterns of meaning, the use of common experience and common sense, the provision of cognitive and emotional transformation, the application of control devices to guide readers' understanding, and the assessment of literature in respect to standards of truth and taste. Originally printed in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 6 (1), 67–89 (2004), based on a talk presented at the TOC Summer Seminar in 2002.
       
      Stephen Hicks was the instructor for this online seminar, held in the fall of 1999. The participants analyze the work and thought of the progenitors of postmodernism, including Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Richard Rorty. Hicks provides anchor essays for each section. What is the Objectivist view of postmodernism and deconstructionism? Read and find out.

      Cyberseminar: Nietzsche and Objectivism by multiple authors (Spring 2000)
      Stephen Hicks was the instructor for this online seminar, held in the spring of 2000. The participants assessed the connections between the thought of Ayn Rand and that of Friedrich Nietzsche, author of Beyond Good and Evil and the The Will to Power, among other works. Was Ayn Rand a Nietzschean? What value is there in the work of Nietzsche? Read and find out.

      What Kant Wrought by Stephen Hicks (October 1999)
      Hicks identifies Immanuel Kant as the key progenitor of the Counter-Enlightenment. Originally printed in Navigator, 2 (13), October 1999, 5–7.
       
      Choosing Life by David Kelley (2009)
      The Objectivist morality, Ayn Rand said, is based on the choice to live. A perennial question in Objectivism is whether (1) life is a value because one chooses to live, or (2) one should choose to live because life is a value. But what does this abstract issue mean in our actual lives as individuals? In this classic essay, first presented at the 1999 IOS Summer Seminar, Kelley discusses the experience of choice as one renews one’s commitment to personal values—and to one’s life—day-by-day.

      Evidence and Justification by David Kelley (PDF, 2010)
      Knowledge must be grounded in evidence in accordance with epistemological principles. This article distinguishes two kinds of principle: Rules of evidence, such the canons of inductive and deductive logic, specify what sort of evidence is relevant to what sort of conclusion. Rules of justification specify what a person's cognitive state must be if he is to be justified in accepting a conclusion. This distinction makes it possible to explain how our knowledge can be fully justified all the way down to its foundations in perception.Originally published in Reason Papers 16 (Fall 1991): 165 – 79 and published as Objectivist Studies 2, 1998.Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.

      A Theory of Abstraction by David Kelley (PDF, 2010)
      This classic essay was originally published in Cognition and Brain Theory, 1984, 7 (3 & 4), 329–357. An academic explanation and analysis of Ayn Rand’s measurement-omission theory of concept-formation, it also relates Objectivism to other philosophical approaches to concept-formation. Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.
       
      Unrugged Individualism by David Kelley (PDF, 2003)
      What is the nature of benevolence toward other people? How does it differ from altruism? Is it a major or minor virtue? How does it relate to the benevolent sense of life? Kelley answers these questions in a groundbreaking work first published in 1996 and revised in 2003. Unrugged Individualism is the first philosophical analysis of benevolence from the Objectivist point of view and is a major addition to the Objectivist ethics. Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.
       
      The Problem of Animal Rights by Shawn Klein (June 2004)
      Why does Objectivism reject animal rights as an invalid concept? In this learned treatment, Klein explains. Originally printed in Navigator, 6 (9), June 2004, 5–7.

      Rationality and the Psychology of Abstraction by Kenneth Livingston
      Cognitive psychologists have discovered that certain kinds of errors people make when reasoning are not random and that they follow certain patterns. Psychologist Livingston employs a creative use of the Objectivist theory of concepts to explain why these patterns make sense. Objectivist Studies 1, 1998. Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.

      Reason and Value: Aristotle vs. Rand by Roderick T. Long et al. (Kindle book, 2000)
      Long offers a new interpretation of the differences between Aristotle and Ayn Rand in ethics and epistemology. Among the issues at stake: Can Rand’s epistemology account for the actual ways in which we learn and use knowledge? Does Aristotle share Rand’s commitment to sense perception as the foundation of knowledge? What is the meaning of the ethical standard of man’s life qua man? This groundbreaking volume includes detailed critical commentaries from Aristotle scholar Fred D. Miller, Jr. and from Objectivist scholar Eyal Mozes. An extensive reply from the author concludes the discussion. Objectivist Studies 3, 2000. Now an e-book in the Objectivist Studies series.
       
      Objectivism Against Anarchy by William R Thomas (PDF document, 2008)
      After surveying the history of the debates between Ayn Rand and anarchist libertarians, Thomas assesses Ayn Rand's argument that government financing should be voluntary. Thomas argues that government services cannot be provided in a fully non-coercive manner, since government is in the business of enforcing its interpretation of the law. Originally published as Chapter 4 of Roderick Long and Tibor Machan, eds., Anarchism/minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free country? (Burlington, VT, 2008: Ashgate Publishing Company), pp. 39–57.



      Cultural Commentaries

       
       Free Speech and Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks (September/October 2002)
      Hicks accuses rampant academic postmodernism of undermining free speech on campus. Originally printed in Navigator, 5 (8–9), September/October 2002, 7–14.

      Why Art Became Ugly by Stephen Hicks (September 2004)
      Hicks blames the collapse of high art in the 20th Century on the shared philosophical premises of Modernism and Postmodernism. The cure is Objectivism. Originally printed in Navigator, 7 (7), September 2004, 5–10.

      The Fourth Revolution by David Kelley (Spring 2009)
      Kelley describes the way capitalism, from its inception, has been undermined by calls for self-sacrifice and egalitarianism. In response, Kelley calls for a moral revolution, one that “rejects altruism at the root.” Originally printed as “Altruism and Capitalism,” IOS Journal 3 (5), January 1994, 1, 7–10. Revised in current form and printed in The New Individualist, Spring 2009, 4 (1–3), 54–61.
       
      The Law in Wartime by Robert Levy (July/August 2002)
      Levy discusses the tension between the right to security and the security of our rights in the era of the War on Terror. Originally printed in Navigator, 5 (7), July/August 2003, 6–12

      Faith, Reason, and the Good Life by Kenneth Livingston (April, 2002)
      Livingston discusses the data showing real-life benefits from religious belief. Is it possible to live the good life without faith? Was Ayn Rand right that religious belief is corrosive to the soul? Originally printed in Navigator, 5 (4), April 2002, 6–11.

      Can There be an "After Socialism"? by Alan Kors (September, 2003)
      Kors argues that the failure of today’s intellectuals to own up to the evils of communism is symptomatic of their abiding hostility to free markets and individual rights. Originally printed in Navigator, 6 (9), September 2003, 5–7.

      Completing the American Revolution by David N. Mayer (Spring, 2008)
      Mayer shows how the ideals of the American Revolution were undermined legally and morally in the twentieth century. He argues that Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged points the way to realizing the revolution’s radical potential. This essay was originally published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, 9 (2) Spring 2008, 191–219 and reprinted in The New Individualist 4 (1–3), Spring 2009, 36–44.
       
      Thomas Jefferson has long been a stumbling block for U.S. politicians and political thinkers. As author of the Declaration of Independence, he is unavoidably the man who defined America's meaning. Yet the Jeffersonian philosophy is clearly one of reason, individualism, liberty, and limited government—all of which are, in different ways, anathema to modern liberals and conservatives. Mayer explains what people have been missing. Originally printed in IOS Journal 7 (1), April 1997, 1, 6–9.
       
      How Racist Are We? by William R Thomas (Summer 2010)
      Thomas reviews evidence of continued racism in American culture and the reasons it persists. But he rejects the idea that racism is a uniquely American issue and calls for a society that has moved beyond both racism and race-based counter-racism. Originally printed in The New Individualist, 5 (12–14), Summer 2010, 48–53.


      Book Reviews

       
      What Does Science Say About the Mind? by Robert Campbell (June 2004)
      A review of Owen Flanagan, The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them (New York: Basic Books, 2002). Campbell criticizes Flanagan's “neo-compatibilism.” Originally printed in Navigator, 6 (9), June 2004, 10–13.

      Still Deferring to Descartes? by David Kelley (January, 2005)
      A substantive review of Mind: A Brief Introduction by John R. Searle (Oxford University Press, 2003), including an excerpt from Searle's book. Kelley discusses the issues of free will and downward causation. Published in Cerebrum, 7(1) January, 2005.

      Blind Injustice by Eric Mack (July/August 2001)
      An assessment of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, the most academically influential book on political philosophy in the late 20th Century. Originally printed in Navigator, 4 (7), July/August 2001, 5–8, 13.
       
      The Dogmatic Determinism Of Daniel Dennett by Eyal Mozes (December, 2003)
      A review of Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves (New York, Viking Press, 2003). Mozes argues that Dennett’s attempt to explain deliberation and choice on a determinist basis is a failure. Originally printed in Navigator, 6 (12), December 2003, 8–11.
       
      Must Politics Rest on Morality? by Eyal Mozes (December, 1998)
      A review of The Structure of Liberty by Randy Barnett (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), which offers a systematic argument defending classical liberal conceptions of justice and the rule of law. Originally printed in Navigator, 2 (4), December, 1998, 1, 11–16.

      The Normality of Freedom by Timothy Sandefur
      A review of Randy E. Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), which puts forward a libertarian interpretation of the US Constitution. Sandefur calls Barnett's argument “a refreshing blast of common sense.”
       
      Why Ecology Requires Economics by William R Thomas (HTML article, April 2005)
      A review of Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Viking Penguin, 2005). Thomas praises Diamond's book as thought-provoking, entertaining, and learned, but finds Diamond's failure to understand the economics of human trade and production to be a fatal flaw in this environmentalist treatment of the fate of civilizations.

 

 

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