David Kelley is a professional philosopher, teacher, and author. After earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1975, he taught philosophy at Vassar College (1975-84) and at Brandeis University as a Visiting Lecturer (1989-90). Among his books are Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence; The Evidence of the Senses, a treatise on epistemology; The Art of Reasoning, a college textbook in logic, now in its 4th edition; and A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State, a critique of the moral premises of the welfare state and defense of private alternatives that preserve individual autonomy, responsibility, and dignity.
Kelley has also written extensively for major publications on issues in philosophy, culture, and politics; and given many talks to academic and policy organizations.
In 1990 Kelley founded The Atlas Society to promote open Objectivism—Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason, achievement, rational self-interest, and freedom—based on The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand, his manifesto on the need for an open and benevolent form of the philosophy. He retired from his full-time position at the end of 2017 but remains active as a board member, consultant, speaker, and writer. He is currently working on the 5th edition of The Art of Reasoning.
Early in Atlas Shrugged Part 1 , Hank Rearden has two conversations that illustrate the conflict between makers and takers. Hank made his wealth by creating value in his business. His dependent brother Phillip is a taker, self-righteously asking for charity; as are the politicians and crony capitalists who seize wealth by force.
This scene, in which Dagny Taggart confronts her brother James about the need to upgrade a rail line, illustrates the difference between her rationality and his second-hand thinking. Dagny is focused on facts as she deals with the reality of a train wreck; James is focused on the opinions of other people.
When the “Equalization of Opportunity” bill forces Hank Rearden to sell off most of his companies, we see why property rights are essential human rights. Together with rights of contract, they allow everyone, including successful producers like Hank, to make rational, long-range plans.