Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

22 April 2016

“Ayn Rand Said” is Not an Argument by Craig Biddle

I have just read Craig Biddle's article "Ayn Rand Said" is Not an Argument in The Objective Standard.  It is posted here.

As Biddle says, his argument is one that should not have to be made.  I have made this argument myself many times and have tried to operate on it while arguing points on this blog.  I left the following comment, which might be moderated out of existence:
While I greatly admire Ayn Rand's work and believe that I learned useful thinking skills from her, it is always a challenging task to quote her appropriately in the many discussions of politics, economy and business, energy and the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis, and human associations that I write about on my blog. It simply takes as much work in many cases to be sure I am quoting her in an appropriate context as it would simply to make my own argument from reality. Should I establish that the context is appropriate for quoting her, I will have to establish the very arguments that need to be made to tie her conclusion correctly to reality in most cases, assuming that she was right in the first place.
There have been a few topics on which I do believe she was wrong. Three of Biddle's bullets as possible examples, I would consider among her errors. I would add her call for regulators to require more time on broadcast media for the opposition to socialism, her occasional tendency to underestimate the resilience of the U.S. economy to federal government harms, and her statement that a man with a beard was hiding character faults. These errors do very little to moderate my admiration for her generally, but they are lessons on why one must think for oneself.
Being a thinking man, but not a scholar, I rarely have time to invest this additional work into appropriately quoting Ayn Rand on a topic. It is safer and more efficient to admire her, but to make my own arguments. Of course any errors I might make then weigh only on me, as they should. And more importantly, I more firmly establish the structure of my own knowledge by always making it my job to fully develop that body of knowledge with direct and constant reference to reality. This is what Ayn Rand's hero John Galt did and this is what Ayn Rand tried to do. One cannot do otherwise as a rational individualist.
For those wondering, the bullet of the four viewpoints that Biddle suggests that Ayn Rand may have been wrong about that I would not necessarily agree with was the one in which she asserts that a child has a duty to his parents.  This is not a simple matter.  There are contexts in which a child has a duty to a parent and a parent has a duty to his child.  The parent-child relationship is very different than the relationships between adults.  It is common for Objectivists to say that children do not have rights.  This is another matter on which I take exception.  A child has a right to be allowed to take actions that develop his potential to become a rational individualist.  This is not to say that a child has the right to demand that someone educate him.  What he has a right to is that no one be allowed to prevent him from trying to educate himself.  A child's rights are very different than those of an adult, but they do have rights.  Generally, these rights are a subset of adult rights.  It is the legitimate duty of a parent, as it is of a government with respect to adult rights, to see that the rights of his children are protected from force by others.  So, if a government forces a child to attend a government-run school where the child cannot appropriately pursue his development as a rational individualist, it is the duty of the parent to oppose that government requirement.

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