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Volume 5, No. 2 - Spring 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE MAGNIFICENT PROGRESS ACHIEVED BY CAPITALISM:
IS THE EVIDENCE INCONTROVERTIBLE?, pp. 251-69
HENDRIK VAN DEN BERG argues that Rand's claim that evidence of capitalism's success is "incontrovertible" cannot be confirmed using familiar annual GDP per capita figures. This article argues that annual GDP per capita cannot logically represent individual welfare because it measures an annual income flow while individuals judge their welfare by their lifetime income. Data are available to measure an economy's capacity to enhance individual lifetime welfare. Not only does this measure come closer to Rand's focus on the individual, it also suggests that the past 200 years of capitalist development have raised individual welfare even more than the familiar, but misleading, annual GDP measures show.
UNIVERSALS AND MEASUREMENT, pp. 271-304
STEPHEN BOYDSTUN argues that Rand's measurement-omission analysis of concepts implies a distinctive magnitude structure for metaphysics. This is structure beyond logical structure, constraint on possibility beyond logical constraint. Yet, it is structure ranging as widely as logical structure through all the sciences and common experience. Boydstun uncovers this distinctive magnitude structure, characterizing it by its automorphisms, by its location among the mathematical categories, and by the types of measurement it affords. He uncovers a structure to universals implicit in Rand's theory that is additional to recurrence structure.
Art as Microcosm, pp. 305-63
Roger E. Bissell offers a new interpretation and clarification of Rand's definition of art, maintaining that an artwork, like language, functions as a "tool of cognition," and that it does so more specifically as a special kind of microcosm which presents an imaginary world. In particular, he argues that architecture and music are aesthetic microcosms and tools of cognition that re-create reality and embody fundamental abstractions and, thus, contrary to assertions by certain Objectivist writers, are forms of art consistent with Rand's definition and concept.
Ayn Rand in the
Scholarly Literature IV:
Ayn Rand in England, pp. 365-400
Nicholas Dykes reports that Ayn Rand has never had anything approaching the same success in England that she has had in the United States. Nevertheless, her work has established a definite niche in most of the main media of communication, and in recent years has begun to receive more attention. This article traces Rand's impact in the British Isles since 1937, and suggests some reasons why she did not repeat her American triumphs "across the pond."
An Economist Reads Philosophy, pp. 401-8
William Thomas reviews economist Leland Yeager's Ethics as Social Science. Yeager presents an argument for a utilitarianism that in its commitment to a reality-oriented, practical, principled ethics of human happiness resembles Rand's Objectivism. The book incorporates a wide and varied literature, including virtually everything written on Objectivism. In sum, it is like an Old Right reconstruction of utilitarianism in response to Randian critiques. The principal shortcoming of the book is its lack of precision, novelty, and clarity in addressing philosophical problems. This results in sloppy reasoning that renders its conclusions unconvincing.
Capitalism and Virtue, pp. 409-20
Will Wilkinson reviews the philosophical aspects of Dinesh D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence. D'Souza's general support of free-markets and technological innovation is noted, but he is criticized for his misreading of Ayn Rand, and for failing to provide an adequate moral defense of capitalism. Additionally, Wilkinson finds D'Souza philosophically confused in discussions of the significance of the scientific image of human nature, genetic manipulation, and cloning.
A Direct Realist's Challenge to Skepticism, pp. 421- 40
Ari Armstrong reviews Michael Huemer's Skepticism and the Veil of Perception and finds in it strong support for the perceptual theory of direct realism. However, Huemer incorrectly assumes perceptual experiences can contain conceptual—and thus causal—information. Regardless, Huemer's theory of "phenomenal conservatism" serves to justify our perceptual judgments and refute skepticism in a way compatible with the preliminary work of Objectivist philosophers, such as David Kelley and Leonard Peikoff.
Reply to Michael Huemer's "Is Benevolent Egoism Coherent?" (Spring 2002):
Michael Young argues against Michael Huemer's contention that egoism demands sacrificing others. The centrality of mutual trust in achieving vital socially-produced goods requires that egoism strictly limit, in degree and scope, any allowable predation. The need for genuine and meaningful social recognition and affirmation rules out achieving mutual trust while secretly being a predator. Egoism may not support a strong Randian principle of never sacrificing others for the benefit of oneself but it plausibly supports a principle of never achieving particular benefits for oneself by imposing on others costs that undermine mutual trust.
Michael Huemer responds to Michael Young's argument that an ethical egoist should not embrace prudent predation because accepting a principle of prudent predation has serious negative consequences over and above the consequences of individual predatory acts. In addition, he addresses the advantages Young claims for an agent-relative conception of value over an agent-neutral one. He finds that the agent-relative conception does not clearly have any of the advantages Young names, and that some paradigmatic uses of the concept of value are agent-neutral.
Objectivism: On Stage and Self Destructive, pp. 469-78
Karen Michalson reviews Sky Gilbert's play, The Emotionalists. She reads Gilbert's play as an exploration of the tragic effects of Objectivism on individuals who wholeheartedly embrace Rand's philosophy before finding that they cannot live up to all of its demands. She focuses on the character of Marcel Pin, a closeted gay man who destroys his very self in a startling attempt to conform his life to Objectivist ideals.
Reply to Karen
Sky Gilbert responds to Karen Michalson's review of his play, The Emotionalists. Gilbert finds her unwillingness to deal with the main plot (which deals with Rand's personal life) to be a sign of lingering idolatry. A discussion of Rand's reputation as guru and—the function of the guru in society—follows.
Rejoinder to Sky
Karen Michalson responds to Sky Gilbert's response to her review of The Emotionalists.
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