On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the errors of “Open Objectivism”, giving back an engagement ring, buying books with military secrets, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 6 April 2014

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Podcast Segments: 6 April 2014

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.


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Question 1: The Errors of “Open Objectivism”

Question: What is “open Objectivism”? Recently, I checked out the website of “The Atlas Society,” the organization run by David Kelley. It advocates for “open Objectivism,” which I assume means that each person defines what Objectivism is. Am I interpreting that correctly? What’s wrong with that approach? Does regarding Objectivism as “closed” lead to intolerance, insularity, and schisms?

My Answer, In Brief: The “closed system” view of Objectivism just asks that people respect Ayn Rand’s philosophy as her own creation – and differentiate it from their own or others’ ideas. Contrary to the advocates of the “open system,” that approach doesn’t lead to insularity, dogmatism, or intolerance.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Giving Back an Engagement Ring

Question: Should a woman give back her engagement ring if the relationship goes sour? A friend of mine asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she accepted. However, they broke off the engagement – and the relationship – a few months later. Is she morally or legally obliged to give back the ring? Is the answer different if they married, then split?

My Answer, In Brief: The law on returning engagement rings varies from state to state. Morally, absent fraud or debts, the ring should be returned to the person who bought it.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Buying Books with Military Secrets

Question: Is it wrong to buy a book containing sensitive military information? The Pentagon claims that the new book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Bin Laden reveals some potentially sensitive details about the operation. I’d really like to read about the mission, but I’m worried that the Pentagon’s concerns are valid, and I’d rather not contribute to a work that that puts our soldiers at risk. However, given that the book has already been released, does it matter whether I buy it or not?

My Answer, In Brief: Based on the story about the publication of this book, you can read it without misgivings. In general, you should feel free to read anything on the open market, provided that its very publication isn’t morally wrong.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions


  • What is the proper response to people who say, “If you take Objectivism to its logical conclusion, it leads to [this specific conclusion”? They believe you must necessarily come to the same conclusion as them, because their conclusion is the consequence of a syllogistic chain of reasoning, making the conclusion “necessary.”
  • What is the difference between rationalizing and reasoning poorly? Often times people who make bad arguments are accused of rationalization when it might just be that they are mistaken.
  • In a free society, should political parties which advocate statism be outlawed? Or would outlawing them be statism? How else do we stop people voting for tyrants and destroying the free society?

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  • Start Time: 51:11
  • Duration: 8:43
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.


Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 59:55

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