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In many non-rational groups, such as religous associations, the rules or values laid out by the leadership are not always followed by those who claim to be followers, or members. These contradictions do not phase those who commit them. Given that Objectivists adhere to the principle that contradictions should not exist, can someone who claims to be Objectivist arrive at a conclusion that is different than Rand's, assuming her same premises? Or, alternatively, are there any premises of Rand's that a declared Objectvist has concluded were mistaken since originally made? Specific examples of variance from Rand, or challenges to Rand, would serve as proof of your Objectivism. Would it not?

asked Dec 07 '12 at 10:52

MarcMercier's gravatar image

MarcMercier ♦

Rand has made comments in the past that I think many Objectivists disagree with. I think she was dismissive of advocates who claimed smoking was harmful to your health. Her comments about women in roles of leadership over men are controversial among honest Objectivists.

What's important to note is that honest, rational men can and will disagree. That is simply the nature of humanity.

(Dec 07 '12 at 11:50) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

Taken literally, the answer is obviously "yes" -- human beings have free will, Objectivists are human beings, ergo they have the ability to reach conclusions different from Rand's. But I don't think that's what the questioner intended, so I'll rephrase the question: Can someone reach conclusions different from Rand's and still be an Objectivist?

The answer is that it depends on the conclusions, and why you reached different ones. Objectivism is a system of philosophical principles. If you understand, accept and live by those philosophical principles then you are an Objectivist. If you do not, then you are not. Rand herself, of course, did a lot more than identify philosophical principles. She wrote about her views in psychology, history, economics, literary theory, etc. She also applied her principles to a wide range of concretes, from evaluations of TV shows to questions of political strategy and even whether a rational woman would want to be President. Rand, as a human being, was fallible, and it's possible she made errors.

If you think she made an error in one of her philosophical principles, then you aren't an Objectivist. (And why would you want to call yourself one if you disagree with the philosophy?) But if you disagree with Rand's non-philosophical principles, or with her application of her principles to specific concretes, that doesn't necessarily make you a non-Objectivist. It depends on the reasons why you disagree.

For example, if you honestly think Rand misapplied one of her principles because she was wrong about the facts or made a logical error in connecting the facts to her principles, you're still an Objectivist. You still accept the principles of the philosophy and you are applying them according to your own best rational judgement to the facts as you understand them. But if you disagree, say, because you find her application emotionally unappealing and don't care to identify any logical or factual error you think she committed, then you are elevating emotion over reason. That's a rejection in action of a philosophical principle, which would make you a non-Objectivist.

If you think that some of Rand's philosophical principles are true and some not, just say that. "I agree with Ayn Rand on many issues but am not an Objectivist."

answered Dec 07 '12 at 20:25

Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

Kyle Haight ♦

That is about as good an answer as I could have hoped to receive. Thank you for taking this time to put together such a well thought out and concise response.

(Dec 08 '12 at 11:26) MarcMercier ♦ MarcMercier's gravatar image

Yes, this is an excellent answer. Objectivism as such concerns Ayn Rand's philosophical ideas, and to some extent how those ideas apply to certain issues. But the further away one steps from philosophy as such, the the more possible to rationally disagree with Ayn Rand's views, yet still be an Objectivist.

Most importantly, a true Objectivist is not one for the sake of calling oneself an Objectivist. Being an Objectivist means you think Ayn Rand was right on philosophical issues, regardless of whether you agree with her on other issues.

(Dec 08 '12 at 13:57) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

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Asked: Dec 07 '12 at 10:52

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Last updated: Dec 08 '12 at 13:57