In 1998, The Atlas Society launched the Objectivist Studies series of monographs with the first two: “Rationality and the Psychology of Abstraction” by cognitive psychologist Kenneth Livingston; and “Evidence and Justification” by founder David Kelley. 

theory of abstraction david kelley objectivism

As Kelley explained in announcing the series, the purpose “is to promote work that expands and develops the Objectivist philosophy and that examines the tenets of the philosophy critically." The monographs were designed to be “academic, scholarly works such as might be published in a professional journal of philosophy. . . The goal is to make these available not only to our own members and others who are familiar with Objectivism, but also to scholars in the respective fields who may have no familiarity at all with Objectivist thought.”

With volume 3, “Reason and Value: Aristotle vs. Rand” by philosopher Roderick T. Long, the series adopted a new format: the main article is followed by commentaries from other scholars, with a reply by the author of the target article. With this commonly used academic format, Kelley noted, “the reader will get to see, within the covers of a single work, the process of academic debate.” The same format is used in the fourth volume, “Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness?” by philosopher Neera K. Badhwar.

The series has attracted attention from scholars both inside and outside the Objectivist community. A session at the 2006 conference of the American Philosophical Association, for example, dealt with Tara Smith’s book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics; ethicist Christine Swanton raised issues based on a commentary in the Badhwar volume.

Because of the monographs’ enduring relevance to timeless issues, The Atlas Society is reissuing them in digital and print formats. Kelley’s classic article “A Theory of Abstraction,” on Ayn Rand’s explanation of concept-formation, has been added to the series.

Former Atlas Society trustee Frank Bubb was instrumental in our Objectivist Studies monograph series, providing seed money and advice on topics and authors. We continue to be deeply grateful for the instrumental role that Frank played and his passion for disseminating these ideas and works. 


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