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Tara Smith on Objectivity in Everyday Life

Objectivity isn’t just for the big questions.

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The concept of “objectivity” gives Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism its name. But how many of us leave objectivity behind when we step out of the lecture hall? Too many, says Tara Smith, professor of philosophy at University of Texas at Austin. Her 2023 OCON talk in Miami aims to correct that failing.

“Living Objectively: Integrating Objectivity Into Your Every Day” delivers on the promise of its title. To understand objectivity’s role in the pursuit of happiness, Smith explains, we need to better understand its place not just in major decisions, but in everyday ones. From choosing whom to invite to dinner to diagnosing a broken appliance, objectivity is how we discover the best solution to our problems or answer our questions. It’s the way we achieve all our values.

Smith uncovers opportunities for objectivity that most of us tend to miss, such as the need to be objective in how one talks to oneself. An intriguing part of the talk deals with the variety of ways in which many of us fail to be objective. You might be surprised by how many of these apply to you.

During the Q&A session, Smith addresses a variety of questions, such as:

  • How to be objective when one’s decisions depend on other people;
  • How to avoid overthinking and “analysis paralysis”;
  • How to cultivate focus; and
  • How to judge art more objectively.


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Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a visiting fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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