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Question: What philosophy counters or disagrees with Ayn Rand and Objectivism , and what are some good books outlining these differences?

Answer:  Ayn Rand was a radical thinker, i.e., one who went to the root of long-standing philosophical problems. She was self-consciously opposed to many of the ideas of most of the well-developed Western philosophical traditions ( such as Platonism, Kantianism, German Idealism, Pragmatism, Humean Empiricism, and Existentialism). As an advocate of objectivity and rational selfishness she was opposed to the key teachings of virtually all religions.
Read our  Q&A archive  online to see some of the contrasts (I could not even scratch the surface here). To go more in depth read "This is John Galt Speaking" or "For the New Intellectual" in the book of that name by Ayn Rand for Objectivist attacks on prominent views. Nathaniel Branden's "The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged " is another good source, as is my own "Radical for Capitalism." I also have an introductory course, "The Essence of Objectivism," on CD, that contrasts Objectivism with many prominent ideas. (All the above are available from  The Objectivism Store.  )
There is something of a dearth of good, published criticism of Objectivism . You can find some in  The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies  or in TOC's own  Objectivist Studies monographs . There is a valuable website that provides links to  online criticisms  of Objectivism , and some of these in my view are good criticisms, in the sense of being based on a fair reading of Rand's meaning and raising worthy questions.
A number of books sharply critical of Objectivism have been published over the years (all these can be researched through the  Objectivism Reference Center , which has the critics links). Several are by Christians of a certain stripe, including books by John Robbins and Michael Yang. "The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand" by Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl contains philosophical critiques of Objectivism of varying quality. "The Ayn Rand Cult" by Jeff Walker collects every attack or scurrilous rumor and slings every bit of mud against Objectivism as can be found. It's a self-contradictory and sloppily researched hash, but it serves up of plenty of vitriol, if that's what you are looking for. None of the book-length criticisms of Objectivism I am aware of is good: none combines basic standards of scholarship and a sound understanding of Objectivism with a basically rational approach to criticism.

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William R Thomas

About The Author:

William R Thomas is a Amazon.com best-selling author. He is Lecturer in Economics at the University at Albany. He has been a lecturer at the University of Michigan, where he taught the economic history of the United States and China. He has also lectured at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia and conducted research under the auspices of the People's University of China. Thomas is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and he holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Michigan.
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