A New Low for The Objectivist Center

 Posted by on 6 August 2004 at 2:31 pm  Libertarianism
Aug 062004
 

The person who forwarded me the following announcement wrote at the top, “*Groan* This is gonna’ be a train wreck, I can already tell.” I agree completely.

If you are in the Washington, D.C. area or traveling through here next Tuesday, Aug 10, you are cordially invited to the below event, put on by IHS for the Koch Fellows and other friends of liberty!

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The Institute for Humane Studies and Koch Fellowship program invite you to a debate on:

Are Ethics Objective or Subjective?

Pro Objective:
Edward Hudgins
Washington Director
The Objectivist Center

Pro Subjective:
Max Borders
Program Director
Institute for Humane Studies

Are ethics ultimately objective or subjective? This is an important question for classical liberals and libertarians. All agree on the goals of individual liberty, free markets and limited governments in a society in which individuals deal with one another based on mutual consent rather than the initiation of force. But on what moral grounds can they defend such a society and government? In this debate Edward Hudgins will take the objective side, basing his argument on the philosophy of Ayn Rand while Max Borders will take the side of a skeptical subjectivist.

When:
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
5:30pm: Refreshments
6:00-7:30pm: The Debate

Where:
The Cato Institute
F.A. Hayek Auditorium
1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

RSVP:
John Coleman
703-993-4969
jcolema2@gmu.edu

Just remember folks, we’re all “friends of liberty”! And we all “agree on the goals of individual liberty, free markets and limited governments in a society in which individuals deal with one another based on mutual consent rather than the initiation of force.” We just want to know on what moral grounds we can defend liberty.

Sheesh. What ever happened to the idea of not making common cause with the so-called “subjectivist wing” of the libertarian movement?!? Perhaps it officially died with David Kelley’s “Party of Modernity” article, in which he indicated that philosophic foundations aren’t so important to political movements after all:

[A party of modernity] is especially important for those who have committed themselves to the political cause of liberty, individual rights, limited government, and capitalism. We are more likely to find allies and converts among those who value reason, happiness, individualism, and progress than among those of premodern or postmodern values. It was the Enlightenment that gave us liberty as a moral ideal and a practical system. The culture of modernity is still liberty’s natural home.

Notice the implications of the claim that “we are more likely to find allies and converts among those who value reason, happiness, individualism, and progress than among those of premodern or postmodern values.” Kelley does not rule out the possibility that genuine political “allies and converts” can be found among advocates of the “premodern” and “postmodern” worldviews. He specifically allows for such a possibility, merely noting that the odds are better among “modernists.” In other words, the necessary philosophic foundations of liberty — such as the primacy of existence, reason, individualism, egoism, and moral principles — are dispensable conveniences in a political movement. Freedom is primary; “reason, happiness, individualism, and progress” are merely means to that end.

Notably, way back when Kelley gave his schism-precipitating “Objectivism and the Struggle For Liberty” lecture to the Laissez Faire Supper Club, he argued for reason, egoism, and mind-body integration as the three preconditions of a proper defense of liberty. As with so much else at TOC, those minimal standards have been discarded as inconvenient. So we ought not be surprised to find Ed Hudgins, the “Washington Man” without an adequate understanding of Objectivism, publicly and animcably debating skeptical subjectivist libertarianism on the premise of total political agreement. And yet, it does seem to be a new low for TOC… or at least it will be.

As a final note, let me suggest a worthy topic for Ed Hudgins’ next debate: “Is reality real?” Now that would be exciting!

   
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