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Yaron Brook Defends Objectivism on Shermer Podcast

A wide-ranging interview promotes objective morality to a secularist audience.

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“People respond to the idealism in Ayn Rand, the projection of an ideal man, an ideal society. When we’re young we’re idealistic. . . . We’re looking for our own truth. . . . We’re out there searching, and Ayn Rand appeals to those people. Now, some of them hold on to that idealism — I’m certainly one of those people. . . . Others succumb to society. . . . This is the core of morality in my view: Can you hold on to what makes you you? Can you hold on to your unique values, or do you conform with everybody else?”

That’s how Yaron Brook wraps up a recent interview with the prominent secularist podcaster Michael Shermer. It’s a fitting end to an interview in which Brook, chairman of ARI’s board of directors and host of the Yaron Brook Show, speaks up for Objectivist moral ideals on a wide array of topics. The conversation begins by examining Objectivist views on politics, economics, and foreign policy but eventually digs into the philosophical premises beneath those views.

Topics covered include:

  • The chaos of anarchy vs. the necessity of the state
  • The four “separations” in an ideal constitution
  • How capitalism encourages collaborative innovation
  • How racism is to be combated under capitalism
  • Justified and unjustified American wars
  • Why Israel represents civilization and freedom, vs. the Palestinians
  • The necessity of a moral defense of secular civilization in the face of Muslim immigration to the West
  • Objective morality vs. relativism and multiculturalism
  • The redistributionist evasion of the real source of wealth (individual production)
  • How both “conservatives” and “progressives” oppose freedom
  • How free will explains economic inequality
  • Defects in the case for slavery reparations
  • The meaning of rational selfishness
  • The fallacy of evolutionary arguments for altruism
  • Why morality is not essentially about social relationships
  • The universality of egoistic moral principles

Some may recognize Shermer as the author of a decades-old essay critical of Objectivism. Toward the end of the interview, Brook openly and frankly disputes a central claim of that essay, that Objectivism is a cult, calling it “ridiculous.” He elaborates at length on his experience with the Objectivist movement and how it contradicts this claim. Shermer lets him speak and does not dispute Brook’s account.

Shermer interviewed Brook because ARI contacted him and requested that an Objectivist be given a chance to respond to another critic of Ayn Rand who appeared earlier on the podcast. We are happy that Shermer agreed to host Brook on his program, and we extend our gratitude to ARI’s donors who support our efforts to defend Ayn Rand’s spirit and legacy in the media.

Ben Bayer

Ben Bayer, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. Ben is an associate editor of New Ideal.

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