Bill Perry’s "Retirement" from TOC

 Posted by on 2 April 2006 at 7:59 am  Uncategorized
Apr 022006

Bill Perry’s “retirement” from The Objectivist Center probably seemed like an ordinary departure from a job to most people. However, those of us who carefully read Bill’s March 10th post to SoloPassion suspected some more significant forces at work.

In that thread, Bill wrote in defense of Robert Mayhew’s Ayn Rand Answers against the unjust attack of the book by George Reisman. After being attacked by Peter Cresswell, Bill then wrote (in part):

Well it is true that I work for TOC. But I have resigned effective a week from today. You also assume that I am an opponent of Mr. Valliant’s book, but if you have read the threads here carefully you will find that I have encouraged people to read it. In addition Jim Heaps-Nelson mentioned that I encouraged him to read Brian Register’s comparison of the two versions of Nathaniel Branden’s memoir.

In addition I will not be speaking at or attending the TOC Summer Seminar, as I am an employee until Friday I will not be making further explanations of this right now.

After reading that post, I cautiously hoped that Bill’s “retirement” might be due to some substantial disagreements with TOC’s philosophy. (Paul and I knew, liked, and respected Bill from our days at TOC, but we hadn’t been in any contact with him for the past few years, since he joined the staff of TOC at about the same time I disassociated from the organization.) After reading that SoloPassion post, I e-mailed Bill, then we spoke on the phone. I was elated — and impressed — by what I heard. As we’ve corresponded since then, I’ve only grown more impressed with the philosophical distance he’s traveled.

Now back in Arizona, Bill Perry is free to speak his mind about TOC. And he’s started to do that with this announcement. Most importantly, he says that he left TOC in part due to substantial ideological disagreements, mostly “[his] growing disagreement with David Kelley’s views about judgment and toleration.” I look forward to his further public comments on these matters, as I know that he has much to say.

Bill plans to post some comments on these issues over the month of April, then take time off from public discussions of Objectivism to study the philosophy. (As much as I’ve love to hear more from him, I heartily support that plan.) His announcement lists some topics for study of particular interest to me, including:

3. Why are so many Objectivists angry at Ayn Rand?

4. Is it appropriate for Objectivist organizations to attempt to influence public debate on political issues–as groups?

5. I want to more closely examine the open-closed system issue. Why are the closed system advocates producing more scholarly works about Objectivism than the open system advocates? What is the status of those works within the philosophy?

6. I may further refine my position about judgment. It is pretty well developed at this point given my past background as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. I want to clarify it in writing.

Also, Bill is offering to privately answer the questions of those who donated to TOC in part due to him:

I am making a limited time offer to anyone who donated to The Objectivist Center when I was employed there from February 2004-March 17, 2006. If you donated in whole or in part because I was employed by TOC, I will answer any questions you have about the Center, and why I left through April 30, 2006. All answers will be by private e-mail or telephone conversation, and are solely for the use of the person asking the question, or his family members.

I would strongly urge present and former TOC donors to take Bill up on that offer, as he has much of interest to say.

Most importantly, I would like to express my open admiration for Bill Perry’s courage and honesty in seriously thinking through these issues for himself. I know that must have been a hard task, but I’m also sure that Bill expected nothing less of himself.

Bravo, Bill!

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