Criticisms of Objectivism (or Ayn Rand).

Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.

Last updated 08/03/10.

Ayn Rand was a truculent, domineering cult-leader, whose Objectivist pseudo-philosophy attempts to ensnare adolescents with heroic fiction about righteous capitalists.


NEW 9/06: Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature
Greg S. Nyquist provides perhaps the most extensive criticism of Rand. He finds that her assumptions about human nature do not match scientific knowledge of human nature. A blog based on his book.
NEW 9/06: Blog: Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature
Daniel Barnes has started a blog for the discussion of Greg Nyquist's 'A.R.C.H.N' and other criticisms of objectivism.
The Heirs Of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?
Scott McLemee provides a charitable overview of the history, major factions, and controversies of Objectivism. Useful background for understanding criticisms, without fawning.
Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
Kelley L. Ross' Friesian School biography of Rand, which is strongly critical of some of Rand's philosophical errors.
Mrs Logic And The Law: A Critique Of Ayn Rand's View Of Government.
Nicholas Dykes' anarcho-libertarian criticism of Rand's denuciation of anarchy.
Libertarian Man!
A John Bergstrom's Attack Cartoons feature that skewers some common libertarian/objectivist foibles.
The Rights (and Wrongs) of Ayn Rand
Robert Bass concludes that Rand's ambition exceeded her achievement. He effectively shows how all her most important arguments fail. Part of his Objectivism: Assorted Commentary page.
Open Letter to Rand
Roy Childs presents an anarcho-libertarian refutation of Rand's minarchist position.
Some Problems with Ayn Rand's Derivation of Ought from Is
by David Friedman. Illuminates a few of the gaping holes in Rand's "logic".
Objectivism and Thomas Jefferson
by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. Objectivists are taken to task for selective quoting from Jefferson, whose writings give many sound reasons to reject Objectivism.
Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology
by Scott Ryan. A technical philosophical criticism of Rand, now a book, based largely on the ideas of Brand Blanshard.
Why I Am Not An Objectivist
by Michael Huemer. A philosophical examination of some Objectivist claims by a skeptic coming from a very similar position and using similar methodology.
Critique of "The Objectivist Ethics"
Michael Huemer finds eight fatal flaws in Rand's derivation of objectivist ethics. (That's all?)
FAQ - What's REALLY Wrong With Objectivism?
by Chris Wolf. An explanation of why there is so much cult-like hostility and schism in a philosophy that claims perception of objective truth.
The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand: A Personal Statement.
Nathaniel Branden details some errors Ayn Rand was prone to. One of several self-aggrandizing discussions of her feet of clay, written conveniently after her death.
The Unlikeliest Cult In History.
Michael Shermer's history and critique of some basic flaws of Objectivism.
What Is Man?
Mark Twain's cynical rebuttal of egoism. Predating Objectivism, it none the less stands Objectivism on its head.
The Stance Of Atlas: An Examination of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand
by Peter F. Erickson. This advertisement for his book claims to patch Objectivism's failings, but his blurb sounds even crankier.
Rand's work: style and quality
by Gary Merrill. Why academics disdain the slipshod work of Rand and her major followers.
TV guide review of "Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life"
by Ken Fox. A dead-accurate and scathing review both of the movie and Rand's "importance". A lot said in few words.
Liberty Online's review of "Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life"
by R. W. Bradford. A libertarian critic of Rand decries its propagandistic nature, its lies of omission and commission.
Ayn Rand and the perversion of libertarianism.
Information about Specific Groups: Neo-Tech.
The Neo-Tech Skeptic FAQ and a collection of Mike Doughney's posts describing how Neo-Tech is a cult. Part of the .ex-cult archive page, which is well worth a visit.
Neo-Tech FAQ
Some of the more obvious dirt on Neo-Tech, which is like a Scientologist's interpretation of Objectivism.
Big Sister is Watching You
by Whittaker Chambers. The 1957 National Review book review of Atlas Shrugged. Wants to be sympathetic, but just can't: the book was just too awful.
Review of "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
Rob Slade's Internet Review Project review casts a quizzical eye on the absurdities of Atlas Shrugged. Many amusing comments on this bizarre ideological heroic fantasy.
Synthetic A Priori: An Argument With M.R.M. Parrott
The chapter "Against Objectivism" details several reasons for considering Objectivism a pseudophilosophy. It points out at length how foolishly naive "existence exists" is. An e-book in PDF by M.R.M. Parrott.
Parodies of Objectivism
by Scott Ryan. Some good parodies of Objectivist language, behavior, and rationalization.
Ethical Egoism
Part of the article on ethics, which points out that Rand was hardly original in ethical egoism, that it must be defended in utilitarian terms, and that the claims of ethical egoism fail for very common prisoner's dilemmas.
Axioms and Egoisms
John Hospers points out the errors in axioms such as "non-initiation of force", such as intermediates between consent and force.
Libertarian Follies
Amitai Etzioni makes a communitarian critique of Tibor Machan and the failings of economic models of human behavior.
Mozart was a Red
Murray Rothbard's thinly veiled satirical play about Ayn Rand and her Objectivist merrymakers. It takes one to know one.
Barry Stoller presents a plain-speaking analysis of Objectivism as a supremacy doctrine for people too busy, lazy, or stupid to actually be intellectuals.
Become an Objectivist in Ten Easy Steps (with illustrations)
This one is relatively subtle.
Objectivism: Opposing_Views
The DMOZ Open Directory catalog. A fairly good list of criticisms.
Objectivist Mockery Page
How can I top that self-description? Links to 20 or so mockeries.
Objections to Objectivism
John Ku's excellent critique of Rand's theory of ethics.
The faulty reasoning of Ayn Rand types.
Starts off with a very clever "Rape: The Unknown Ideal" example to demonstrate the "logic" in Ayn Rand's work.
The 25 Most Inappropriate Things An Objectivist Can Say During Sex
Perhaps this is why there are so few children of Objectivists. From Save The Humans.
Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later
A Bob the Angry Flower Classic Literature sequel.
Skepticism of Rationality
Many Objectivists (libertarians too) think that their ideas are more "rational" than those of other people. Let's look at the term.
"Ayn Rand, More Popular than God!" Objectivists Allege!
Jessica Amanda Salmonson presents the facts about this "objective" urban myth. It takes a fantasy novelist to know one....
Objectivism: Who Needs It -- A Warning To Young Readers
Tom Devine emphasizes that "we should never trust a person whose system of thought has a name." A very good rule of thumb.
Ayn Shrugged: A Look At The Work Of Ayn Rand
A harsh review of "Atlas Shrugged" that points out the "weird, pathological agendas and bad writing."
Legal Reasoning After Post-Modern Critiques of Reason
Philosopher Peter Suber provides an easily readable overview of 9 post-enlightenment critiques of reason in this academic article. Should be required reading for Objectivists.
NEW 9/06: The Virtue of Sycophancy (1)
The Virtue of Sycophancy (2)
Cringe and Win! - The 5 Most Embarrassing Moments in "PARC"
Daniel Barnes evaluates James Valliant's book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics".
NEW 2/07: The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult
Murray Rothbard makes a very convincing case for Objectivism as a cult. It's delightful to see it compared to the communist party.
NEW 8/08: The Madness of King Leonard
Leonard Peikoff appears on Bill O'Reilly's show and rants so appallingly that O'Reilly looks sensible in comparison.
NEW 11/08: Greenspan's breaking away from Objectivism
Why the most famous former Objectivist chose to leave Objectivism.
NEW 8/10: Wealthcare: the Cult of Ayn Rand
Jonanthan Chait's big-picture view of Objectivism's influence after reading the two Rand biographies.

Print References

The links here are to, through their associates program, primarily because of the review information. Books without links are generally out of print, and can often be easily found at AddAll Used and Out Of Print Search. Good sites for bargain shopping for sometimes expensive new books are Online Bookstore Price Comparison and AddAll Book Search and Price Comparison. Both of those list applicable coupons. Another is

Albert Ellis "Is Objectivism A Religion?"
L. Stuart, 1968.
Peter Erickson "The Stance of Atlas: An Examination of The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"
Herakles Pub. 1997. Shows some fundamental errors in Rand's philosophy, and identifies some earlier alternatives that are supposedly correct.
Greg S. Nyquist "Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature", 2001. Perhaps the most extensive criticism of Rand. Finds that her assumptions about human nature do not match scientific knowledge of human nature. Link to online text!
William F. O'Neill "With Charity Toward None: An Analysis Of Ayn Rand's Philosophy"
Littlefield, Adams, 1972.
John W. Robbins "Answer to Ayn Rand : [a critique of the philosophy of objectivism]"
John W. Robbins "Without a Prayer: Ayn Rand and the Close of Her System"
Apparently a rebuttal from a religious point of view.
Scott Ryan "Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology"
A technical analysis that finds Objectivism to be both incoherent and unoriginal.
Jeff Walker "The Ayn Rand Cult"
(Open Court 1998). Questions the originality of Rand's ideas, and presents the cult-like organization of Objectivism.

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Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( ).
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