Christmas Came Early This Year

Will Wilkinson's long awaited third Letter to a Young Objectivist on the subject of ethics is now online. The previous two were on free-will and human sociality, respectively. I'm printing this one out to read while I go outside to smoke a cigarette. I suggest you all do the same.

Update: A few minutes and many cigarettes later, I've finished the piece. As I expected, it was well worth waiting for. And I was pleased to see Will take the evolutionary angle to criticize Rand's ethics, as David Friedman once did, and as I once did with Aristotle's function argument. One way out of these criticisms, though, is to weaken the argument a bit and focus instead on the patterns of behavior that promote human flourishing. Roderick Long, a charitable reader of both Aristotle and Rand, takes this latter route.

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But, I don't smoke!

But, I don't smoke!

Gil, aren't you aware that

Gil, aren't you aware that smoking is healthier than fascism?

But in your case, I'll make an exception: you can smoke a bubble pipe. (I wonder why the anti-smoking nazis haven't taken a page from the anti-gun playbook and gone after these delightful toys?)

Micha, But it's not even

Micha, But it's not even clear to me that Rand is promoting a pattern of behavior that DOES promote flourishing. And unless you weaken her position beyond recognition, her theory will still say that that some patterns of behavior that can promote flourishing can't, and thus run up against reality, which is, after all, what it is.

Will, You may be right; I


You may be right; I haven't read enough of Rand to be sure. I think this is why Long is more of an Aristotelian than a Randian.