Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence

Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence

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? David 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, a major addition to the Objectivist ethics, and a convincing demonstration of the fertility of the system of ideas originated by Ayn Rand.


  • “I found David Kelley's Unrugged Individualism fascinating and provocative.” —Lester Hunt, professor of philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • "In his superb monograph on benevolence as a necessary Objectivist virtue, Dr. Kelley beautifully fills a major gap in the Objectivist ethics. It is a much needed contribution. Every Objectivist needs to study this essay." —Nathaniel Branden, author of The Psychology of Self-Esteem and The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
  • "Benevolence is one of Ayn Rand's most intriguing concepts. David Kelley's careful and comprehensive analysis of the nature and implications of benevolence is a memorable contribution to the study of Rand's ideas and individualist ideas in general." —Stephen Cox, professor of literature, University of San Diego


David Kelley earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1975, and later taught cognitive science and philosophy at Vassar College and Brandeis University. His articles on social issues and public policy have appeared in Harper's, The Sciences, Reason, Harvard Business Review, The Freeman, and elsewhere. His books include  The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand; The Evidence of the Senses; (scheduled for re-publishing in early 2015), and The Art of Reasoning, one of the most widely used logic textbooks in the country. Kelley is founder and chief intellectual officer of The Atlas Society.