Welcome to the Spring 2014 issue of The Objective Standard, which begins our ninth year of publication.
I want first and foremost to extend an enormous “thank you” to all of our subscribers, donors, and writers, whose material, moral, and intellectual support made our first eight years possible and laid the groundwork for what is to come. Without your initial and sustained support, TOS simply would not exist. With your support, this hub of Objectivist intellectual output is not merely existing, but thriving, expanding, and reaching more and more minds with the ideas on which human life and civilized society depend. From all of us at TOS: Thank you.
Now, on to the contents at hand.
First up are the introduction and opening chapter of my forthcoming book, Thinking in Principles: The Science of Selfishness. I began work on this book in 2003 and completed a rough draft in 2004, but, after committing in 2005 to the launch of TOS, I found myself temporarily unable to dedicate the kind of time and intellectual energy necessary to make further progress on a book of this depth. Now, however, with the bumps and hitches of the early years behind us, TOS is soaring, and I am able to get back to the kind of work I love most: writing books that clarify important fields of philosophy. I hope you enjoy this peek at the book. Let me know what you think—and stay tuned to TOS Blog, where I will occasionally share additional excerpts from the book before its publication this December.
Next up is “Aristotle Versus Religion,” by Andrew Bernstein, which offers a concise history of the relationships and conflicts between Aristotelianism and the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Dr. Bernstein illustrates the varying degrees to which Western and Middle Eastern cultures accepted or rejected The Philosopher’s ideas and attempted to mix them with religion. This survey shows the power of rational ideas to sustain and further human life and the power of irrational ideas to throttle and thwart it—and shows the importance of understanding that Aristotelianism is the root of all good in the world today and of fighting to expand recognition of this fact.
In “Answering Sam Harris’s ‘Moral Landscape Challenge,’” Ari Armstrong addresses Harris’s public challenge:
Anyone who believes that my case for a scientific understanding of morality is mistaken is invited to prove it in 1,000 words or less. (You must address the central argument of the book—not peripheral issues.) The best response will be published on this website, and its author will receive $2,000. If any essay actually persuades me, however, its author will receive $20,000, and I will publicly recant my view.
Armstrong answers the challenge beautifully. As for the payment due, we will see.
Books reviewed in this issue are: Free Market Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader, by Steven Kates (reviewed by Richard M. Salsman); Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, by Diana Hsieh (reviewed by Ari Armstrong); and The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, by Timothy Sandefur (reviewed by Slade Mendenhall).
As always, in addition to the articles and reviews, the issue includes a sampling of posts from TOS Blog. (This issue’s sampling includes my article “Basic Moral Theories Essentialized” and its accompanying chart, “Moral Theories at a Parallel Glance,” which are great conversation starters. Be sure to share them with friends.)
If you haven’t already done so, sign up for TOS’s weekly emails to receive the latest announcements and commentary from TOS Blog, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional daily commentary and links, and visit our YouTube channel for my latest Reason at Large videos. Also be sure to check our all-new audio feed, which is available via direct rss feed or iTunes. The new feed currently offers a selection of recorded TOS Blog posts, Reason at Large episodes, journal articles, and more (e.g., “Why Capitalism Is Moral,” “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism,” and “‘A Cause Greater Than Yourself’—In What Sense?”). We’ll be adding new audio items on a regular basis and, in time, expanding the offerings to include interviews.
Finally, let us know what you think about our all-new website, which will have debuted by the time you read this. We’ve been working on it for several months, and are eager to hear your thoughts—especially any suggestions for improvement.
Thank you again for your continued business and support. You make all of this possible.
Enjoy the issue, and have a most fruitful spring. —Craig Biddle