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Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

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❶Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics:

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What is the Objectivist theory of knowledge epistemology? Objectivism holds that all human knowledge is reached through reason , the human mental faculty of understanding the world abstractly and logically. Aristotle called man "the rational animal" because it is the faculty of reason that most distinguishes humans from other creatures. But we do not reason automatically.

We are beings of free will and we are fallible. This is why we need the science of knowledge—epistemology—to teach us what knowledge is and how to achieve it. The basis of our knowledge is the awareness we have through our physical senses. We see reality, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it through touch. As babies, we discover the world through our senses. As our mental abilities develop, we become able to recall memories and we can form images in our minds. Other animals are also capable of perception and memory.

What most obviously sets humans apart is our bountiful use of language. The difference is more fundamental, though: Abstractions are ideas that correspond to an unlimited number of things at once.

The objective information about real things which social and subjective processes including measurement generate is reflected in real results such as producing nuclear weapons, which really kill people, and medical procedures, which really cure disease cf. MERTON, for an incisive refutation of the subjectivist position that one's values insulate oneself from the world. Theories, methods, and conclusions which are incompatible with real results are winnowed out so that better ones can be cultivated.

In contrast, postmodernism smugly assumes that social constructions are self-confirming, reality beyond social constructions does not exist or what amounts to the same thing is unknowable and inconsequential, and any construction is tenable as long as it commands interest. Objectivism is the highest form of respect for the subjects we are studying. It respects their psychological reality as something meaningful and important which must be accurately comprehended. Subjectivism either denies a psychological reality to subjects, or else makes it unknowable.

The psychology of other people is clouded by the subjectivity of the observer and is not recognized for what it truly is. To objectively comprehend peoples' psychology, the researcher must organize his subjectivity appropriately. Hypothetical concepts must be well-defined so that they can be identified unambiguously. An appropriate methodology must be adopted in order to solicit complete, meaningful evidence that can be used to test the validity of hypothetical concepts.

And the evidence must be analyzed through sensitive, systematic procedures which can detect its features and compare them to the characteristics of hypothetical concepts.

In this way, the researcher can be warranted in believing that her concepts illuminate the true nature of peoples' psychology. Nebulous hypothetical concepts, insufficient or inappropriate behavioral evidence, and arbitrary analyses vitiate objectivity and allow the researcher to impose her theoretical constructs on the data.

Let us examine how subjective acts of a qualitative researcher, interpreting statements in a document, can elucidate the true nature of a person's psychology. The first step is to identify "meaning units" within the document.

These are coherent and distinct meanings embedded within the protocol. They can be composed of any number of words. One word may constitute a meaning unit. Several sentences may also constitute a unit. A meaning unit may contain a complex idea. It simply must be coherent and distinctive from other ideas. The meaning unit must preserve the psychological integrity of the idea being expressed. It must neither fragment the idea into meaningless, truncated segments nor confuse it with other ideas that express different themes.

It will be instructive to illustrate this point by identifying the meaning units in an actual interview protocol. The subject was asked whether a student is morally obliged to offer a ride to another student in the school whom he did not know who needs a ride to an important college interview.

I shall bracket meaning units that express issues related to the moral obligation of doing favors for strangers. If I was in his place and I [didn't know the kid too well], [if I wanted to sleep late], [I don't feel that it is my responsibility] to go drive somebody to their interview, [it is up to them, they are responsible]. If I were going there, [if I had an interview there at the same time, sure I would]. But if I had the opportunity to sleep late and didn't know the kid at all, I wouldn't It is [my car and I am the one who is driving], and I don't see why I should give him a ride.

It doesn't mean I shouldn't give them a ride, but [if I don't know them well enough], I think [just out of protection for myself and my property], I wouldn't. I think people may say that [being responsible to yourself is more important than other people].

I think there is [an extent where you put yourself first]. And when you [believe in putting yourself first, like I do] After the meaning units have been identified, they are paraphrased by the researcher in "central themes. The central themes should represent the psychological significance of the meaning units. For instance, when the subject surmises that if he wanted to sleep late he need not worry about driving a schoolmate to an interview, it seems that he is emphasizing his own desire over other people's and that this is a form of self-gratification.

Similarly, when he says that it's his car and he is the one driving, the implication is that he can use his property however he wishes and is under no obligation to use it to help another person.

Central themes involve interpreting the psychological significance of the meaning unit that is often not explicitly stated. However, the inference must be consistent with the body of statements. The meaning units of the statement on moral reasoning can be represented by the following central themes:. I don't think he has any obligation". The central themes are the significant psychological elements expressed in the narrative. Although central themes are constructions of the researcher that go beyond the subject's literal words, they are consistent with these and represent their significance.

In this sense, the central themes objectively summarize the psychological meanings that the subject expresses in the narrative cf. This procedure avoids impressionism that is common in qualitative methodology, whereby the researcher simply declares meanings without grounding these in empirical evidence in the form of the subject's statements.

It will be illustrative to examine an instance of qualitative research in which the researcher's values were allowed to generate a conclusion that was not empirically grounded. The contrast with the foregoing example will highlight what objectivity consists in and how it can be achieved. It was guided by the theoretical orientation that individuals construct personal meanings about things rather than reflect social meanings.

Social meanings are said to be impersonal, reified, monolithic, and static. Individuals are said to be active and to never merely receive social meanings. Instead, individuals always transform social meanings into personal significations. This testifies to their activity, creativity, and agency. The authors present a brief conversation to document this point of view.

Let us examine it to see whether their conclusions are empirically validated. The authors observed patrons in the Winter Palace museum, St. Petersburg, looking at a 19th century painting that depicts the Winter Palace and its locale. One conversation between two patrons went as follows:. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: Rand argued that the primary focus of man's free will is in the choice: In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort.

Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one's consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality—or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make.

Whether in fact a person's actions promote and fulfill his own life or not is a question of fact, as it is with all other organisms, but whether a person will act to promote his well-being is up to him, not hard-wired into his physiology. Says Rand, "Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not.

To remain alive he must act and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it.

He cannot dig a ditch—or build a cyclotron—without a knowledge of his aim and the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.

The primary virtue in Objectivist ethics is rationality , as Rand meant it "the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action. The purpose of a moral code, Rand held, is to provide the principles by reference to which man can achieve the values his survival requires. If [man] chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice.

If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course. Reality confronts a man with a great many "must's", but all of them are conditional: Rand's explanation of values presents the view that an individual's primary moral obligation is to achieve his own well-being—it is for his life and his self-interest that an individual ought to adhere to a moral code.

The only alternative would be that they live without orientation to reality. A corollary to Rand's endorsement of self-interest is her rejection of the ethical doctrine of altruism —which she defined in the sense of Auguste Comte 's altruism he coined the term , as a moral obligation to live for the sake of others.

Rand also rejected subjectivism. A "whim-worshiper" or "hedonist," according to Rand, is not motivated by a desire to live his own human life, but by a wish to live on a sub-human level. Instead of using "that which promotes my human life" as his standard of value, he mistakes "that which I mindlessly happen to value" for a standard of value, in contradiction of the fact that, existentially, he is a human and therefore rational organism.

The "I value" in whim-worship or hedonism can be replaced with "we value," "he values," "they value," or "God values," and still it would remain dissociated from reality.

Rand repudiated the equation of rational selfishness with hedonistic or whim-worshiping "selfishness-without-a-self. For Rand, all of the principal virtues are applications of the role of reason as man's basic tool of survival: Many philosophers have criticized Objectivist ethics.

The philosopher Robert Nozick argues that Rand's foundational argument in ethics is unsound because it does not explain why someone could not rationally prefer dying and having no values. He argues that her attempt to defend the morality of selfishness is, therefore, an instance of begging the question. Nozick also argues that Rand's solution to David Hume 's famous is-ought problem is unsatisfactory.

In response, the philosophers Douglas B. Charles King criticized Rand's example of an indestructible robot to demonstrate the value of life as incorrect and confusing.

Blair defended Rand's ethical conclusions, while maintaining that his arguments might not have been approved by Rand. Rand's defense of individual liberty integrates elements from her entire philosophy. According to Rand, "man's mind will not function at the point of a gun. Persuasion is the method of reason. By its nature, the overtly irrational cannot rely on the use of persuasion and must ultimately resort to force to prevail.

Objectivism holds that because the opportunity to use reason without the initiation of force is necessary to achieve moral values, each individual has an inalienable moral right to act as his own judgment directs and to keep the product of his effort. Peikoff, explaining the basis of rights, stated, "In content, as the founding fathers recognized, there is one fundamental right, which has several major derivatives.

The fundamental right is the right to life. Its major derivatives are the right to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Objectivism maintains that only societies seeking to establish freedom or free nations have a right to self-determination. Objectivism views government as "the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.

Rand argued that limited intellectual property monopolies being granted to certain inventors and artists on a first-to-file basis are moral because she viewed all property as fundamentally intellectual. Furthermore, the value of a commercial product comes in part from the necessary work of its inventors.

However, Rand viewed limits on patents and copyrights as important and held that if they were granted in perpetuity, it would necessarily lead to de facto collectivism. Rand opposed racism and any legal application of racism. She considered affirmative action to be an example of legal racism.

She therefore said she opposed capital punishment "on epistemological, not moral, grounds. Objectivists have also opposed a number of government activities commonly supported by both liberals and conservatives, including antitrust laws, [] the minimum wage , public education , [] and existing child labor laws. Some critics, including economists and political philosophers such as, Murray Rothbard , David D.

Friedman , Roy Childs , Norman P. Barry , and Chandran Kukathas , have argued that Objectivist ethics are consistent with anarcho-capitalism instead of minarchism. The Objectivist theory of art flows from its epistemology, by way of "psycho-epistemology" Rand's term for an individual's characteristic mode of functioning in acquiring knowledge. Art, according to Objectivism, serves a human cognitive need: Objectivism defines "art" as a "selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments"—that is, according to what the artist believes to be ultimately true and important about the nature of reality and humanity.

In this respect Objectivism regards art as a way of presenting abstractions concretely, in perceptual form. The human need for art, on this view, stems from the need for cognitive economy. A concept is already a sort of mental shorthand standing for a large number of concretes, allowing a human being to think indirectly or implicitly of many more such concretes than can be held explicitly in mind. But a human being cannot hold indefinitely many concepts explicitly in mind either—and yet, on the Objectivist view, needs a comprehensive conceptual framework to provide guidance in life.

Art offers a way out of this dilemma by providing a perceptual, easily grasped means of communicating and thinking about a wide range of abstractions, including one's metaphysical value-judgments. Objectivism regards art as an effective way to communicate a moral or ethical ideal.

Moreover, art need not be, and usually is not, the outcome of a full-blown, explicit philosophy. Usually it stems from an artist's sense of life which is preconceptual and largely emotional. The end goal of Rand's own artistic endeavors was to portray the ideal man.

The Fountainhead is the best example of this effort. This higher symbolism should be represented in all art; artistic expression should be an extension of the greatness in humanity. Rand held that Romanticism was the highest school of literary art, noting that Romanticism was "based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition," absent which, Rand believed, literature is robbed of dramatic power, adding:.

What the Romanticists brought to art was the primacy of values Values are the source of emotions: The term "romanticism," however, is often affiliated with emotionalism, to which Objectivism is completely opposed. Historically, many romantic artists were philosophically subjectivist. Most Objectivists who are also artists subscribe to what they call romantic realism , which is how Rand labeled her own work. Several authors have developed and applied Rand's ideas in their own work.

Rand described Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels , as "the first book by an Objectivist philosopher other than myself. The Philosophy of Ayn Rand , a comprehensive exposition of Rand's philosophy. The Russian Radical Some scholars have focused on applying Objectivism in more specific areas.

Machan has developed Rand's contextual conception of human knowledge while also drawing on the insights of J. In the field of ethics, Kelley has argued in works such as Unrugged Individualism and The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand that Objectivists should pay more attention to the virtue of benevolence and place less emphasis on issues of moral sanction.

Kelley's views have been controversial, and critics Peikoff and Peter Schwartz have argued that he contradicts important principles of Objectivism. Induction in Physics The political aspects of Rand's philosophy are discussed by Bernstein in The Capitalist Manifesto A Treatise on Economics , George Reisman attempts to integrate Objectivist methodology and insights with both Classical and Austrian economics.

In psychology, Professor Edwin A. According to one Rand biographer, most people first read Rand's works in their "formative years. Academic philosophers have generally dismissed Objectivism since Rand first presented it. Her outspoken defense of capitalism in works like Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal , and her characterization of her position as a defence of the 'virtue of selfishness' in her essay collection of the same title published in , also brought notoriety, but kept her out of the intellectual mainstream.

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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.

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Objectivism is the highest form of respect for the subjects we are studying. It respects their psychological reality as something meaningful and important which must be accurately comprehended. Objectivism holds that it is possible to be certain of a conclusion, and that there is such a thing as truth. But being certain depends on scrupulously following a logical, objective process of reasoning, because it is only that kind of thinking that allows us to formulate true ideas.

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Objectivism holds that art is a requirement of human life and happiness. Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s deepest, most fundamental convictions—such as his views of the nature of the universe, the nature of man, what is knowable, what matters most, what is possible. Ontology in business research can be defined as “the science or study of being” and it deals with the nature of reality. Ontology is a system of belief that reflects an interpretation by an individual about what constitutes a fact.