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Is Free Will an Illusion? by Onkar Ghate

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Is free will an illusion? Today, most people would answer yes. It might seem like you make choices and face genuine alternatives in life, it might seem like you have the power to decide what road you will travel, but this is all an illusion, it’s claimed. Your course in life is determined by antecedent factors. Some combination of nature or nurture, it’s usually said, determines who you are and what you do in life. But against this deterministic viewpoint that has swept the 20th and 21st centuries, one of the most radical thinkers of the 20th century, philosopher Ayn Rand, takes a very different position. She argues that the fact of choice is real and it’s vital to understand the actual power and control that free will gives you over your own mind, and so your own life. Far from being an illusion, free will is a fundamental fact about you as a human being. The real illusion, she argues, is that determinism, the denial of free will, is a logical, coherent, scientific position. It isn’t.

Isn’t Everybody Selfish? by Gregory Salmieri

The question “Isn’t Everybody Selfish?” is often asked cynically by people who think selfishness is a bad thing and that it’s impossible to avoid. Sometimes it is said by economists who think that selfishness helps to explain human action, and sometimes the question is posed skeptically to people, e.g., Ayn Rand, who say that everyone ought to be selfish. If everyone is selfish all the time, what point is there in saying that people ought to be? In this talk, Salmieri discusses what selfishness really means, what it is to act selfishly and how often that really happens.

What Are Rights and Where Do They Come from? by Harry Binswanger

Join special guest Harry Binswanger for this entry in the series of Ayn Rand Institute webinars on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its application to current issues. His topic is the one principle on which our very lives depend: the principle of Individual Rights. This concept—which the United States of America was based upon—has now vanished from the public understanding with tragic results. In his discussion, Binswanger will present the Objectivist theory of what rights are (their metaphysical status), how we know them (their epistemological status) and what they mean in political practice.

Harry Binswanger explores another one of life’s big questions: What Are Rights and Where Do They Come from?

Should I Go by Reason or by Faith? by Ben Bayer

Human beings desperately need guidance in life, but where should we seek this guidance? Should we seek it in what we can observe with our own five senses and what we can logically infer from that data? Or should we seek it from some higher authority, just because we feel what it tells us is true? This week on Philosophy for Living on Earth, ARI’s Ben Bayer explores another one of life’s big questions: Should I go by reason or by faith?

Is Selfishness the Root of All Evil? by Keith Lockitch

If there is one thing that almost everyone agrees on today, it’s that selfishness is bad. From day one, we’ve been told, “don’t be selfish” or “selfishness is the root of all evil.”
 
But what if the way we think about selfishness is completely wrong?
 
What if our conventional understanding of what it means to be selfish is totally confused—and it’s not just that we’re mistaken, but we’re mistaken in a way that actually makes it harder for us to achieve a happy, fulfilling life and a better world?
 
Throughout history, various thinkers have challenged us to rethink conventional wisdom. Copernicus and Galileo challenged our view of a motionless earth. Darwin challenged our understanding of how all of life’s species developed.

Ayn Rand, the writer and philosopher famous for her bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, was a thinker who challenged our conventional wisdom about morality.
 
She was a moral revolutionary in the same way that Galileo and Darwin were scientific revolutionaries.

Join Keith Lockitch and explore Ayn Rand’s moral revolution. He’ll be addressing one of life’s big questions: Is selfishness the root of all evil?

Should I Follow My Head or My Heart? by Aaron Smith

All of us have experienced clashes between our thinking and our feelings—between our “head” and our “heart.” The question we seem to face, in any given clash, is: Which one to follow—“head” or “heart”? On this Philosophy for Living on Earth webinar, ARI’s Aaron Smith discusses Ayn Rand’s perspective on this issue.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 17, 2019
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Can You Take Credit for Who You Are? by Ben Bayer

What makes you who you are? Is it nature or nurture—or a bit of both?

Or does that very way of framing the question leave out something very important, namely—you? Can you take credit for who you are? If so, how?

We can’t and we don’t create ourselves out of nothing. Some people are born with advantages that other people don’t have. So, how can we take credit for our achievements? How can we be blamed for our crimes?

Join Ben Bayer to explore one of life’s big questions: Can you take credit for who you are?

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 10, 2019
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What Is Self-Esteem? How Do I Get It? by Elan Journo

Is having self-esteem a good thing?

Most people will say it’s part of living a good life. And we all know someone who lives with gnawing self-doubt, someone with little or no self-esteem at all. It really holds them back.

But is self-esteem something anyone can attain, or is it just for the lucky few? And who can give it to you?

Elan Journo explores these questions.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 03, 2019
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Can There Be Good Without God? by Onkar Ghate

Whether it’s the legality of abortion, the desirability of free speech, the power of social media companies, or the appropriateness of a president’s tweets, we seem to be increasingly divided by issues of value, by what we consider right and wrong,good and evil.

But whichever side we take on these and other controversies, if we’re asked to explain where our very ideas of good and evil and of right and wrong come from, and what exactly they mean, we’re often at a loss.

In the face of such puzzlement, one of the most common responses is to say that God is the source of morality and that if “God is dead, everything is permitted.”

In this webinar, we’ll challenge the idea that morality rests on an authority figure. We’ll discuss how authoritarianism plagues both our religious and secular thinking about ethics. And we’ll sketch an alternative approach to good and evil, one that treats morality as a this-worldly, ordinary, understandable form of knowledge.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on July 27, 2019
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Love Does Not Require Sacrifice by Keith Lockitch

Conflicts among priorities and values, big or small, come up in relationships all the time. Figuring out how to navigate them is critical to making the relationship work.

If you look to any self-help or psychology website for advice on this topic, you’ll see articles with titles like: “7 things you should sacrifice for a relationship.” Many such articles seek to draw a boundary between what should and what shouldn’t be sacrificed—but it’s taken for granted that there has to be some willingness to sacrifice.

In this webinar, we’ll challenge that idea.

We’ll put the concept of “sacrifice” under the microscope and untangle common confusions about the intersection of self-interest and romantic love. We’ll describe what a healthy, non-sacrificial relationship would look like—and how to achieve it.

Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on July 20, 2019
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register