Ayn Rand railed, with eloquent precision, against many modern evils in the realms of morality and politics. She was able to pierce through the “moral grayness” of our culture in order to see the heart - the principle - behind any moral issue, and then dismantle it with fierce and articulate moral clarity. But she failed to do in the realm of epistemology what she so stringently demanded (and marvelously provided) in the realm of morality: to clearly state one’s principles. Just as in the realm of morality, when epistemological principles are left undefined, the result is a type of grayness - an intellectual grayness, which is potentially far more destructive than it’s moral counterpart. Epistemology is, in a sense, the court of the intellect - and as such, it requires clearly defined and understood laws which must be adhered to consistently in order to guide one’s worldview into conformity with reality. When left undefined, epistemological principles decay into arbitrary, contradictory and subjective reactions such that the result is an intellectual climate which resembles the political-economic climate under the Anti-Trust Laws which were so adequately denounced by Ms. Rand in the following quote:
The Antitrust laws—an unenforceable, uncompliable, unjudicable mess of contradictions—have for decades kept American businessmen under a silent, growing reign of terror. Yet these laws were created and, to this day, are upheld by the “conservatives,” as a grim monument to their lack of political philosophy, of economic knowledge and of any concern with principles. Under the Antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does. For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too high, he can be prosecuted for monopoly or for a successful “intent to monopolize”; if he charges prices lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “unfair competition” or “restraint of trade”; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “collusion” or “conspiracy.” There is only one difference in the legal treatment accorded to a criminal or to a businessman: the criminal’s rights are protected much more securely and objectively than the businessman’s.
Similarly, The Anti-Truth laws - an inarticulable, unintelligible, uncompliable mess of contradictions - are the un-named epistemological “laws” by which Objectivists operate - not on their worldview, but on the worldview or positions presented by those with whom they disagree. Under these Anti-Truth laws, a position becomes irrational from the moment it is conceived, no matter what it’s foundations. For instance, if it uses logic to an extent which some objectivists judge too much, it is dismissed as rationalism; if it uses abstraction to an extent which some objectivists deem too high, it is smeared as a “floating abstraction”. There is only one difference between positions which are accepted by Objectivists and those which are rejected on these auspicious epistemological grounds: the conformity (or nonconformity) of the position to the Objectivist’s subjective whim.
For all of the Objectivist’s talk of cutting edge innovations in the realm of epistemology, they are remarkably incapable of explicitly articulating (and then consistently following) their epistemological laws - which is why it is more appropriate to place Miss Rand’s innovations regarding concept formation in the realm of cognitive science rather than in the realm of epistemology. As argued in a previous post, epistemology is primarily truth criteria - meaning that epistemology primarily requires clearly defined and consistently followed laws. Suspend the need to explicitly state your epistemological laws and you can play it deuces wild - which is exactly what many Objectivists do.
Test this though. Ask an Objectivist to clearly and explicitly state their epistemological laws. Then, before checking to see if the rest of their worldview adheres to the laws, first check to see that the laws adhere to themselves. You will find, particularly with the “laws” which they wish to impose on Christian arguments, that they do not.
Stay tuned for examples of such self-contradictory laws as well as my articulation of proper epistemological laws.