morality

From Metaphysical Facts to Moral Guidance by Aaron Smith

This session—part lecture, part class discussion—explores the fact that, and the ways in which, the guidance offered by the Objectivist ethics flows from the recognition of certain universal facts about human nature and the nature of the world in which man lives. The purpose of the session is to highlight the connection between facts and values from a uniquely Objectivist perspective.

Recorded live at OCON on June 24, 2019

Who Decides What’s Right or Wrong? by Elan Journo

In ethics, the question “Who ultimately decides what is morally right or wrong?” is commonly asked. Notice that in other areas of life there’s no issue of “who decides” what’s right or wrong. For example, if your car won’t start, you call a mechanic to inspect it. After he replaces the battery, the car works again. We have a clear-cut answer—no one “decides.” So, why do we treat moral issues differently? Why is there an issue of final authority in ethics? And how should we think about this issue?

Join Elan Journo as he presents Ayn Rand’s revolutionary answer to the question: Who decides what’s morally right or wrong?

Should You Judge Other People? by Elan Journo

If you want to be considered a caring person, you are expected to offer a “no-judgement-zone.” And you are supposed to believe that it’s an insult to be called “judgmental.” It’s recommended that you live by the biblical advice “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” but can this actually guide us in our daily life and thinking?

There are people who lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder and worse—and, clearly, they deserve to be morally condemned.

On the other hand, there are honest, thoughtful, productive, and truly heroic people. To form a positive evaluation of them, some kind of moral judgement is needed.

Join Elan Journo as he explores another one of life’s big questions: Should you judge other people?

Calls to “Abolish Billionaires” Are a Moral Travesty by Keith Lockitch

There’s a new campaign slogan among Democratic politicians: “Abolish Billionaires.” Nobody can honestly deserve a billion dollars, they claim, so they want to impose radical new taxes on the super-wealthy. Indeed, people are arguing that the very existence of billionaires is some kind of moral outrage.

Wealthy people are being blamed today for all the world’s problems. Yet all of those problems are actually the result of the very ideas being preached by the same leaders and intellectuals who want to “abolish” the billionaires.

But instead of vilifying and hating billionaires, we should be thanking them for improving all of our lives on a massive scale with the products they offer for voluntary trade on a free market.

As Ayn Rand argued in her novel Atlas Shrugged, if anyone deserves thanks on Thanksgiving, it’s those productive Atlases who carry the whole world on their shoulders.

Join Keith Lockitch as he argues that the real moral travesty is the campaign to abolish billionaires.

Why Be Honest? by Ben Bayer

We live in an age in which fabricated stories pulse through social media, fashionable startup companies are founded on swindles and, of course, politicians of all stripes routinely lie. Whatever happened to the idea that honesty is the best policy? Most people would recognize honesty as an obvious example of a moral virtue, but the idea of being honest on principle strikes many people as a burdensome duty they owe to other people, which is sometimes too impractical to stick to consistently.

Is honesty really just a duty we owe to others? What does it mean to be honest and why should we bother being honest at all? 

Join Ben Bayer to explore one of life’s big questions: Why be honest?

What Makes Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Distinctive? by Onkar Ghate

Have you ever wondered what Ayn Rand’s philosophy—which she called Objectivism—is all about? Why is she such a controversial figure with millions of fans who love The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged but also with many, many critics who call her books and ideas evil?

Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, discusses Objectivism exploring especially Rand’s moral and religious views, which are at the heart of her radicalness. Ghate also considers why she championed self-interest and her new conception of a moral hero.

Why Are Principles Important in Life? by Keith Lockitch

When we describe someone as a person of principle, it’s often meant as a compliment. We mean that the person has a solid moral compass and that his actions are grounded in time-honored rules of conduct. On the other hand, though, we sometimes view principles as being rigid and constraining, a bunch of rules that stifle spontaneity. From that point of view we sometimes view the man of principles as being somewhat dogmatic, maybe even a bit of a zealot.

So is it good to be a principled person or is it a problem? What exactly are principles anyway and what do they do for us? Do we even need them in life? These are questions that Keith Lockitch will be exploring in this episode of Philosophy for Living on Earth.

Is Altruism Good? by Ben Bayer

Maybe you’ve heard of something called “effective altruism”? It’s a recent movement that encourages people to do research to figure out the best way to give away as much of their own money as possible, allegedly in order to help out as many people as possible. Now one wonders if calling it “effective altruism” implies that altruism up until very recently hasn’t been effective. 

In any case, what is altruism really, what’s it all about, and what motivates it? Is it simply an expression of generosity and good will among men? Or is it motivated perhaps by something else? These are the questions that we need to ask and think about it if we’re going to evaluate altruism, an idea that most people simply equate with the very idea of morality. Are they right to equate it? And if not, why would anyone challenge that equation?  

Join Ben Bayer as he asks one of life’s big questions: Is altruism good?

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?

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?

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
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register

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
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register

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
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register

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

What Tribalism Looks Like Around the World by Elan Journo

Tribalism is rampant in other countries. We’ll explore some of its forms and its role in the subjugation of individuals, the opposition to human progress, and the fueling of violent conflicts.

The “Virtue of Selfishness”? Ayn Rand’s Ethics of Egoism in Your Own Life by Elan Journo

Ayn Rand held that an individual’s pursuit of “his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” Fifty years ago, Rand published The Virtue of Selfishness, a groundbreaking book laying out her ethics of rational egoism. What does it look like to be selfish in your own life? In this introductory talk, Elan Journo discusses Rand’s conception of morality and sketches what it looks like in practice.

Recorded May 7, 2014

The Psychology of Happiness with Gregory Salmieri, Gena Gorlin and Dave Rubin

This is the tenth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Gregory Salmieri and psychologist Gena Gorlin join Dave Rubin to discuss the psychological requirements of happiness.

Taking Your Happiness Seriously with Tara Smith and Dave Rubin

This is the sixth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Tara Smith joins Dave Rubin to discuss what it means to take one’s happiness seriously.

Grounding Morality in Facts with Harry Binswanger, Gregory Salmieri and Dave Rubin

This is the fifth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosophers Gregory Salmieri and Harry Binswanger join Dave Rubin to discuss Objectivism’s view on the relationship between facts and values, why Ayn Rand’s ideas generate the strong reactions they do, and Harry’s experience knowing Ayn Rand personally.

Creating a Life Worth Living with Onkar Ghate, Gregory Salmieri and Dave Rubin

This is the fourth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosophers Gregory Salmieri and Onkar Ghate join Dave Rubin to discuss how to create a life worth living.

Why Selfishness is a Virtue with Onkar Ghate, Tara Smith and Dave Rubin

This is the first in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Onkar Ghate and Tara Smith join Dave to discuss the virtue of selfishness.

Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living on Earth (Part 1) by Ben Bayer

This session explores the basic contours of Ayn Rand’s overall philosophy by discussing highlights from Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged. On Day 1, we discuss the following questions: Is our society and our world, like Galt’s, going through a moral crisis? Why does Galt think the solution to this crisis is to discover morality, rather than return to it? What is the morality for living on earth, and on what earthly facts is it based? (We try to avoid Atlas plot spoilers.)

Recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018.

Objectivism is Radical (and Applying It Can be Hard) by Yaron Brook

FROM THE VAULT–classic content from the Ayn Rand Institute.

In this talk, Yaron Brook discusses how radical Objectivism is and the difficulties involved in applying it, especially in the current culture.

This lecture was recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2013 in Chicago.

What Might Be and Ought to Be: The Idealism of Objectivism by Aaron Smith

What Might Be and Ought to Be: The Idealism of Objectivism

Ayn Rand is often charged with advocating a kind of cynical amoralism; but the opposite is true. Rand was a moral idealist. In this session, we will discuss the nature and roots of that idealism, addressing such questions as: What does it mean to be an idealist? Why does Rand think that ideals are so important to have and to fight for? What is the connection between having ideals and having a self? Is idealism naïve and impractical?

This talk was recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018.

Patrick Bet-David Interviews Yaron Brook

In this video, recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018, Patrick Bet-David interviews Yaron Brook to discuss Objectivism and Capitalism. Brook responds to questions such as:  Is Objectivism a philosophy for elitists?  Is it sustainable to run a nation based on this philosophy?  How is world peace achieved?  Has religion done more good or bad for the world?  Was Ayn Rand’s move to America as a young woman a “leap of faith”?  What would the world look like if everyone accepted Objectivism?  Does the virtue of selfishness work in every aspect of life?  And more. . . .

Yaron Brook is chairman of the board of the Ayn Rand Institute and travels extensively as ARI’s spokesman.

Brook can be heard weekly on The Yaron Brook Show, which airs live on the BlogTalkRadio podcast. He is also a frequent guest on national radio and television programs. He is the coauthor, with Don Watkins, of the national best-seller Free Market Revolution; How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government and of Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality.

Brook serves on the boards of the Ayn Rand Institute, the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism and CEHE (Center for Excellence in Higher Education), and he is a member of the Association of Private Enterprise Education and the Mont Pelerin Society.

Mr. Bet-David is passionate about shaping the next generation of leaders by teaching entrepreneurship and disrupting the traditional approach to a career. His popular YouTube videos “The Life of an Entrepreneur” and others are available on Valuetainment, a channel for entrepreneurs. He has hosted one-on-one interviews with NBA Hall of Famers James Worthy and Magic Johnson; author Robert Greene; entrepreneur and NBA team owner Mark Cuban; Indy-500 winner Al Unser Jr. and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

 

Free Speech, De-Platforming, Patreon and Sam Harris’s Response

Yaron Brook talks with Onkar Ghate and Greg Salmieri about free speech, the Patreon scandal, and Sam Harris’s reaction. During this Livestream from the Ayn Rand Institute the guests will discuss free speech from an Objectivist perspective and why the controversy is philosophic in nature.

Thinking Like an Individualist by Ben Bayer

This session explores a key theme of The Fountainhead: the importance of thinking for oneself. We discuss how key speeches and passages from the book address these questions: What does it mean to think for oneself? Does it mean believing whatever one likes, never learning from or agreeing with others, judging everything on a case-by-case basis? Or does it mean using a disciplined, principled method consistent with learning from others? (May contain mild Fountainhead plot spoilers.)

Recorded live at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018

Newport Beach, California

July 3, 2018

What It Means to Be Selfish in Life and in Politics: Yaron Brook at Exeter University

In this talk, Yaron Brook discusses what it means to be selfish, what role selfishness has in politics, and how selfishness contributes to creating a happy productive life.

This talk was streamed live from Exeter University on November 13, 2018.

Deeper Connection Through Mutual Selfishness by Gena Gorlin

This talk integrates the moral perspective offered by Rand’s “trader principle” with psychological tools and insights for improving assertive communication. Attendees will learn how skills such as reflective listening, the “broken record” technique, perspective-taking, and ”I”-statements can deepen the intimacy and value derived from close personal relationships, largely by conveying respect for the other person’s volition and value-context while also demanding respect for one’s own. Recorded at Objectivist Conferences 2018

The Berkeley “Free Speech Movement” and the Erosion of Free Speech by Steve Simpson

In the 1960s, protests erupted at U.C. Berkeley over a ban on political activity on campus. Students marched and occupied school property, all in the name of “free speech.” Today, the Free Speech Movement launched at Berkeley in the 1960s is widely held as a model for advocates of the right to free speech. Is that true? This talk analyzes the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and its implications for free speech today.

What Is Killing Western Civilization? with Douglas Murray, Claire Fox and Yaron Brook

Cultural observers have often noted that Europe — and, more broadly, Western civilization — despite historically unprecedented success, is in danger of losing itself. But what exactly is being lost, and why? And what can be done about it?

In a recent panel discussion entitled “What Is Killing Western Civilization?,” Yaron Brook (chairman of the board of the Ayn Rand Institute) and Douglas Murray (author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam) met at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers lecture theatre in central London to discuss the future of Western civilization in the context of its own identity crisis and the growing trend of immigration to the West from those outside it — and, in some cases, hostile to it. The panel, moderated by Claire Fox (director and founder of Academy of Ideas), addressed such questions as:

  • What is Western civilization?
  • What is the nature of the crisis that the West faces?
  • How should one think about immigration in today’s world?

Sport as an Arena for Admiration by Tara Smith

On a Pedestal: Sport as an Arena for Admiration

This talk explores the value of admiration in the realm of sports. At a time when much in the world around us seems distinctly un-admirable, spotlighting athletes’ achievements offers a refreshing antidote. Even those who aren’t sports fans can gain a deeper appreciation of how admiration itself is a value and can contribute to the admirer’s own flourishing. We explore how the sight of an achievement (as Ayn Rand observed) is, indeed, a glorious thing.

This talk was recorded live in Newport Beach, California, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018.

Free Speech, Free Minds, Free Markets with Yaron Brook, Dave Rubin and Eric Weinstein

A conversation about freedom, between Yaron Brook, Dave Rubin and Eric Weinstein.

Elevating the Dialogue: Overcoming Today’s Intellectual Abyss with Sargon of Akkad and Gregory Salmieri

The political climate in the West, described by some as toxic, is deteriorating rapidly. The worse it gets, the more we hear about the conflation of speech and action, that words lead to violence, and that government should step in.

How serious are the problems around modern political discourse, such as trolling and de-platforming, and what is the best way to bring about constructive discussions on controversial topics?

This event was recorded live in London on October 12, 2018.

“Kill by Laughter”: Humor in The Fountainhead by Robert Mayhew

“Kill by Laughter”: Humor in The Fountainhead and Its 21st-Century Relevance

The Fountainhead is the novel in which Ayn Rand’s conception of humor (good and bad) comes across most clearly. The novel begins: “Howard Roark laughed.” Yet the villain Ellsworth Toohey, presenting his recipe for achieving power, recommends that we “kill by laughter.” This lecture discusses humor in The Fountainhead and the prevalence of the bad kind of humor in today’s culture.

The Fountainhead on What Is Important (and What Is Not) by Gregory Salmieri

The characters in The Fountainhead have differing views of what is important in life. The more sympathetic characters differ in the significance they place on the vices or inadequacies they observe in other people and in the culture at large. Dr. Salmieri explores the novel’s treatment of this issue and elaborates on Howard Roark’s distinctive perspective (which Dominique Francon comes to share).

Philosophy and the Human Soul with Yaron Brook, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and Gregory Salmieri

This panel discussion centers on the impact of philosophy on a person’s life, wrestling with topics ranging from the sovereignty of the individual to the nature of human consciousness to how values are derived from facts. This discussion took place on July 1, 2018, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018 in Newport Beach, California.

America, Israel and the Middle East by Elan Journo

In his new book What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Elan Journo explains the essential nature of this pivotal conflict, what has fueled it for so long, and America’s actual stake in the region. In this introductory talk delivered at Objectivist

Being a Rational Optimist by Yaron Brook

Why would anyone be optimistic today? Given the state of politics and our culture, and what we see on the news, it can be difficult not to have a negative view of the future. In this talk, delivered at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018, Yaron Brook says that contrary to popular belief, we ought to look forward to the future. By introspecting and putting the present day in its proper historical context, Brook argues, we have very good reason to be optimistic.