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Policy Statement on Objectivism and Openness

Policy Statement on Objectivism and Openness

May 15, 2023

The Atlas Society is committed to Objectivism, the philosophy originated by Ayn Rand. We are committed to the core, essential principles of Objectivism, which serve as guidelines for all our work. These include*:

  • The objective existence of reality.
  • Reason as the source of knowledge and guide to action.
  • The moral right of individuals to pursue their own happiness vs. sacrificing for others.
  • The right of individuals to live by their independent judgment, to think and speak, choose their goals in life, and work to acquire and trade property.
  • A government limited to the protection of individual rights in accordance with the rule of law.

The Atlas Society is committed to open Objectivism, as outlined in our Founder’s Statement here... Our non-dogmatic approach welcomes disagreement and debate, and rejects the idea that engaging with those who hold different beliefs equates to sanctioning those views. We embrace open Objectivism as a living philosophy, actively seeking new insights, and using new media to promote the philosophy.

Intro to The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand

We take a similarly tolerant view when it comes to Objectivists on our faculty who agree on core fundamentals of the philosophy, but who reach different conclusions particularly when it comes to political and foreign policy applications. This benevolent orientation stands in stark contrast with those who insist “You can’t be an Objectivist if you vote for X,” or suggest that all Objectivists must ascribe to a particular policy position.

Over the past several years, we’ve continued to expand our faculty by recruiting scholars and senior fellows, who occasionally disagree—sometimes passionately, but always civilly—on issues ranging from the Ukraine-Russia conflict, to Israeli politics, to US presidential candidates. We do not police their positions, but we continue to try and model civil and respectful discussion and debate.

We recognize that from time to time, some of our supporters may take vehement exception to views expressed by individual members of our faculty. Therefore, we felt it worthwhile to emphasize that members of our faculty, in addition to their work for The Atlas Society, have independent academic and intellectual careers, and no one statement by one scholar should be interpreted as representing the position of the organization as a whole.

Moreover, since much of our focus remains dedicated to reaching new audiences unfamiliar with Rand’s ideas—including creative video content, graphic novels, Pocket Guides and student events—we encourage followers of our work to maintain perspective on the totality of our multifaceted programs and impact. We understand that embracing greater diversity in viewpoints among our faculty, combined with a risk-taking culture of innovation when it comes to our content, may result in instances where an expressed view or piece of content might rub a viewer or listener the wrong way, and we absolutely invite and welcome feedback—positive and negative. And we invite members of our community to evaluate any disagreements within the broader context of our work, particularly with regard to reaching new audiences.

Chapter 5 "Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand"

A final word from our Founder, David Kelley, Ph.D.:

“The view of Objectivism as open applies at two levels—philosophy and applications. With regard to philosophy, the core principles define a framework but do not include many other elements in Rand’s view. Most of us at TAS accept those other elements, but we recognize they are open to deeper analysis. Rand herself, for example, acknowledged that she had not developed the epistemology of induction or of proposition. TAS scholars are working on these and other issues, as are scholars elsewhere.

“With regard to applications, Objectivism is ‘a philosophy for living on earth’—a guide to achieving one’s best life in any sphere—profession, family, and politics. At the same time, deductive applications of Objectivist principles to areas of application ignore the relevance of considerations from other fields and their inductive bases. For example: philosophy has a clear bearing on domestic policy since Objectivism advocates capitalism: a limited government that does not initiate force. Still, in the context of a mixed economy and parties advocating mixed policies, voting depends on one’s best judgment about the whole context.

“Foreign policy is even more open to debate. The philosophic principle that our government should protect our interests leaves open a wide range of views, depending on one’s assessment of history, economics, the motives of leaders (e.g., Putin), and military strategy, among many others.

“In these and other areas of application, reasonable people who share the core principles of Objectivism can and do disagree. Because of the shared principles, however, we can conduct discussion and debates in recognition that we all learn from the exchange. And benevolence, an ancillary of openness, keeps the spirit of the exchange positive.”

Truth & Toleration (Conested Legacy) 20 yrs Later

*[A fuller list of essential principle can be found in Truth and Toleration, Chapter 5, section “What is


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