In his July 21, 2019, review (“Atlas Neutered: Ari Armstrong’s Straw Man Attack on Objectivism“), Don Watkins ignores almost all of the substance of my book, grossly distorts what he does address, and descends into juvenile name-calling, assuring his readers that I wrote my book in “bad faith” and that I am guilty of intellectual “theft” (my exhaustive citations notwithstanding).
Philosopher Michael Huemer discusses his book, Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, focusing on the problem of the severe suffering of most animals currently raised for their flesh, skin, milk, or eggs. He also discusses the difference between a strict vegan diet and a diet that includes bivalves and potentially lab-grown meat; the alternative strategy of reducing one’s consumption of animal products; the problem of social conformity; and more.
Here I reply to Mozes’s March 25, 2019, essay. My essay here is part of an exchange beginning with Mozes’s January 6 essay and continuing with my previous reply. Although I seek to put the present discussion in its broader context, I certainly do not try to recapitulate my entire case here, a fact to which I hope readers are sensitive. My goal here is to try to wrap up the exchange so that readers know where and how Mozes and I disagree.
Mozes and I agree very closely on the proper interpretation
of Ayn Rand’s metaethical theory. We disagree about whether that theory is
correct (I say no) and what the theory entails in terms of certain moral
commitments. We also disagree about whether my proposed alternative, that the
point of ethics is to help a person rationally integrate values experienced as
ends in themselves, can succeed.
A bit of background: Mozes, whom I met years ago at an
Objectivist event, has written important essays about Rand’s moral theory,
including one on the free-rider problem, several of which I discuss in my book.
In my view, Mozes is a widely underappreciated Objectivist theorist.
Here I do not limit myself to a point-by-point reply of Mozes’s commentary; I seek also to put the conversation in context and to expand my ideas in a way that I hope will prove helpful to the general reader.
I want to encourage Objectivists to bear in mind who has the burden of proof regarding Rand’s moral theory. Objectivists have the burden to prove both that the metaethics is valid and that it entails the sorts of values and actions that they say it does. Continue reading “Rand’s Ethics and the Burden of Proof”
Objectivists I know and know of tend to be smart, thoughtful, balanced, joyful, successful people. They do profoundly important work in such areas as education, technology, aviation, business, law, and philosophy. In many ways their productive achievements directly or indirectly benefit my life.
As a long-time atheist, I’ve made my peace with my eventual death. More or less. I mean, I want to delay death as long as feasible, given a reasonable quality of life, but it isn’t something that preoccupies my thoughts. Still, I found myself suppressing a strange sense of dread, at times, while reading Michael Shermer’s new book, Heavens on Earth (Henry Holt, 2018). Death sucks—there’s no getting around that. Continue reading “Michael Shermer Stares Down the Grim Reaper in Latest Book”