Ayn Rand (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Whither the Universal? A Thomistic Critique of Objectivist Morality
Listed below are the works consulted for the fall 2012 semester project in PHL 652: Natural Law with Holy Apostles College and Seminary. “Whither the Universal? A Thomistic Critique of Objectivist Morality” explores, in the light of a Thomistic understanding of the natural law, the basis for morality in objectivism, the philosophical system of Ayn Rand. This project specifically considers the objectivist claim that an objective moral standard exists in the complete absence of God.
Baker, James T. Ayn Rand. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1987. Baker offers a brief biographical sketch of Rand and a synopsis of her thought; important for understanding Rand’s philosophy in relation to the circumstances of her life.
Berliner, Michael S., ed. Understanding Objectivism: A Guide to Learning Ayn Rand’s Philosophy. New York: New American Library, 2012. Berliner presents the lectures on objectivism of Rand disciple Leonard Peikoff in written form. These lectures serve to take the reader deeper into understanding the philosophical basis of objectivism; particularly important for this project are the sections on morals in objectivism.
Bernstein, Andrew. Ayn Rand for Beginners. Danbury, CT: For Beginners, LLC, 2009. This book presents an introduction to Ayn Rand, her works, and her philosophy of objectivism; with this, it gives us a very good basic orientation to the subject.
Budziszewski, J. What We Can’t Not Know: Revised and Expanded Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. Budziszewski provides a solid introduction and defense of the natural law; as such, it provides a natural law foundation through which the objectivist basis for morality will be critiqued.
—–. Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1997. Similar to his work above, Budziszewski presents a sound explanation and defense of the natural law which aids in a critique of objectivism.
Fagothey, Austin. Right and Reason: Second Edition. Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 2000 reprint; orig. 1959. This work is a classic handbook on “ethics in theory and practice based on the teachings of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas.” Since Rand based some of her positions on the work of Aristotle, this work is helpful in comparing her understanding of Aristotle with the classic Thomistic understanding of Aristotle.
Hittinger, Russell. The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2007 reprint; orig. 2003. As with Budziszewski, Hittinger provides an excellent defense of the natural law. In this regard, it will likewise be used to critique the objectivist position on morality.
Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man. New York: HarperOne, 2001. Lewis’s treatise on the natural law and its importance for humanity serves as a significant work by which to evaluate objectivism.
—–. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. As with The Abolition of Man, Lewis provides a strong presentation on the criticalness of the natural law to guide man to his proper end.
Mullady, Brian. Both a Servant and Free: A Primer in Fundamental Moral Theology. New Hope, NY: New Hope Publications, 2011. Mullady delivers a strong presentation and defense of classical Christian moral theology, and thus serves as an excellent standard by which to reflect on objectivist morality.
Peikoff, Leonard. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Peikoff, a longtime disciple of Rand, presents a complete overview of objectivist philosophy. This is an important work for gaining a synthesized understanding of objectivism.
Podritske, Marlene and Peter Schwart. Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed. New York: Lexington Books, 2009. This work contains several transcripts of Any Rand interviews from the 1930s to 1980s. Of particular interest to this project is an interview in which Rand speaks directly to the basis of morality in objectivism.
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. According to Rand, her 1957 magnum opus provides an example of lived objectivism; as such, it is an important work for understanding Rand’s vision for a world based in objectivism.
—–. The Fountainhead: Centennial Edition. New York: Plume, 2005. Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, serves to introduce readers to her philosophy of objectivism through the story of a modern architect “ahead of his times.” It lays the foundation for further development of objectivism in Atlas Shrugged.
—–. The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Here we find a collection of essays by Rand covering the topics of philosophy, culture, and politics. Of particular interest are those essays dealing with Rand’s arguments on objectivist morality.
Rice, Charles. 50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It Is & Why We Need It, Revised Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. This work is Rice’s “catechism” on the classic Thomistic understanding of the natural law presented in a question and answer format. As with the other works on the natural law, it serves to provide a basis through which to evaluate objectivism.
Wiker, Benjamin. 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read: Plus Four Not to Miss and One Imposter. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2010. The “imposter” in Wiker’s book is Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; which Wiker uses to provide a solid summary and critique of objectivism.