Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies is a series of books presenting outstanding recent scholarship on Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. In addition to the best of the previously unpublished papers and comments (appreciative and critical) presented to the Society at American Philosophical Association meetings, volumes also contain invited papers that push the boundaries of our understanding of Objectivism and its relationship to the dominant contemporary and historical schools of thought in philosophy and allied fields.

Series editors:  James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh) and Gregory Salmieri (Anthem Foundation and Rutgers University)

Editorial board:

Lester H. Hunt (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall University)
Fred D. Miller, Jr. (Bowling Green State University)
Adam Mossoff (George Mason University)
Darryl Wright (Harvey Mudd College,  [The Claremont Colleges])
Allan Gotthelf, editor

James G. Lennox associate editor
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011 – release date: November 28, 2010

Philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is a cultural phenomenon. Her books have sold more than 25 million copies, and countless individuals speak of her writings as having significantly influenced their lives. In spite of the popular interest in her ideas, or perhaps because of it, Rand’s work has until recently received little serious attention from academics. Though best known among philosophers for her strong support of egoism in ethics and capitalism in politics, there is an increasingly widespread awareness of both the range and the systematic character of Rand’s philosophic thought. This new series, developed in conjunction with the Ayn Rand Society, an affiliated group of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, seeks a fuller scholarly understanding of this highly original and influential thinker.

The first volume starts not with the metaphysical and epistemological fundamentals of Rand’s thought, but with central aspects of her ethical theory. Though her endorsement of ethical egoism is well-known—one of her most familiar essay collections is The Virtue of Selfishness—the character of her egoism is not.  The chapters in this volume address the basis of her egoism in a virtue-centered normative ethics; her account of how moral norms in general are themselves based on a fundamental choice by an agent to value his own life; and how her own approach to the foundations of ethics is to be compared and contrasted with familiar approaches in the analytic ethical tradition. Philosophers interested in the objectivity of value, in the way ethical theory is (and is not) virtue-based, and in acquiring a serious understanding of an egoistic moral theory worthy of attention will find much to consider in this volume, which includes critical responses to several of its main essays.






Reason, Choice and the Ultimate End


Reasoning about Ends: Life as a Value in Ayn Rand’s Ethics

Darryl Wright


The Choice to Value (1990)

Allan Gotthelf

Metaethics: Objectivist and Analytic


The Foundations of Ethics: Objectivism and Analytic Philosophy

Irfan Khawaja


Egoism and Eudaimonism: Replies to Khawaja

Paul Bloomfield

Author Meets CriticsTara Smith’s Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics


Rational Selves, Friends, and the Social Virtues

Helen Cullyer


Egoistic Relations with Others: Response to Cullyer

Tara Smith


Virtuous Egoism and Virtuous Altruism

Christine Swanton


On Altruism, and the Role of Virtues in Rand’s Egoism: Response to Swanton

Tara Smith


What Is Included in Virtue?

Lester Hunt


The Primacy of Action in Virtue: Response to Hunt

Tara Smith

Uniform Abbreviations of Works


List of Contributors



From the book’s back cover:

“This is a superb collection of essays on Ayn Rand’s metaethics and her theories of value, virtue, and egoism. The dialogues between leading Rand specialists and distinguished moral philosophers less familiar with her philosophical work shed new light on the relationship of her thought to contemporary analytic philosophy.”
                    —Fred D. Miller, Jr., Bowling Green State University

“Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy is an important cultural force in the United States today and influential in contemporary political debates.  And yet there has been a dearth of sustained philosophical discussions of Objectivism in the scholarly literature. Fortunately, this is changing.  In Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue, a very strong group of philosophers debate such central questions as how Objectivism approaches the foundations of ethics and analyzes the nature of value and virtue—including the complex relationship between rational egoism and altruism.  Philosophers interested in engaging with Objectivism with greater clarity and depth would do well to start here.” 
                    —Peter Railton, University of Michigan

“A valuable and exciting project. Gotthelf and Lennox are universally recognized as being two of the leading Ayn Rand scholars.“
                    —Harry Binswanger, professor of philosophy,
                        Ayn Rand Institute

“At long last a book has brought together specialists in ethical theory and moral psychology with scholars of Ayn Rand, to engage with Rand’s thought at the highest levels. These energetic discussions will be of interest to ethicists as well as social and political thinkers.”
                      —John David Lewis, Philosophy, Politics, and 
                          Economics Program, Duke University

Allan Gotthelf, editor

James G. Lennox associate editor
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013

Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge offers scholarly analysis of key elements of Ayn Rand’s radically new approach to epistemology. The four essays, by contributors intimately familiar with this area of her work, discuss Rand’s theory of concepts—including its new account of abstraction and essence—and its central role in her epistemology; how that view leads to a distinctive conception of the justification of knowledge; her realist account of perceptual awareness and its role in the acquisition of knowledge; and finally, the implications of that theory for understanding the growth of scientific knowledge. The volume concludes with critical commentary on the essays by distinguished philosophers with differing philosophical viewpoints and the author’s responses to those commentaries.

This is the second book published in Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies, which was developed in conjunction with the Ayn Rand Society to offer a fuller scholarly understanding of this highly original and influential thinker. The Ayn Rand Society, an affiliated group of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, seeks to foster scholarly study by philosophers of the philosophical thought and writings of Ayn Rand. 








Ayn Rand's Theory of Concepts: Rethinking Abstraction and Essence

Allan Gotthelf


Conceptualization and Justification

Gregory Salmieri


Perceptual Awareness as Presentational

Onkar Ghate


Concepts, Context, and the Advance of Science

James G. Lennox




Concepts and Kinds




Rand on Concepts, Definitions, and the Advance of Science: Comments on Gotthelf and Lennox

Paul E. Griffiths



Natural Kinds and Rand's Theory of Concepts: Reflections on Griffiths

Onkar Ghate






Rand on Definitions—“One Size Fits All”?

Jim Bogen



Taking the Measure of a Definition: Response to Bogen

Allan Gotthelf


Concepts and Theory Change




On Concepts that Change with the Advance of Science

Richard M. Burian



Conceptual Development versus Conceptual Change:Response to Burian

James G. Lennox


Perceptual Awareness




In Defense of the Theory of Appearing: Comments on Ghate and Salmieri

Pierre Le Morvan



Forms of Awareness and "Three-Factor" Theories

Gregory Salmieri



Direct Realism and Salmieri's "Forms of Awareness"

Bill Brewer



Keeping up Appearances: Reflections on the Debate Over Perceptual Infallibilism

Benjamin Bayer

Uniform Abbreviations of Works


List of Contributors



“A landmark set of essays, with comments and responses, exploring the implications of Rand's theories on perception, concept-formation, definition, justification, and conceptual change in science. The publication of this remarkable and engaging volume brings to the attention of professionals a theory of knowledge whose depth, breadth, and nuance may surprise them.”

—Harry Binswanger, Editor, second edition of Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology


“This second volume of Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies provides extensive analysis of Ayn Rand’s epistemology, the most important—but perhaps the least well-known—part of her philosophy of Objectivism. Contributed by scholars both sympathetic to and critical of Rand’s approach, these revealing essays address a wide range of topics, including Rand’s unique accounts of concept-formation and objectivity.”

—Darryl Wright, Harvey Mudd College


“By locating Rand’s theory of concepts in both traditional and contemporary debates, this collection offers a textured portrait of her distinctive view while also advancing the debates themselves. The essays are uniformly engaging and incisive, making substantial contributions on such topics as definitions, theory change, and epistemic justification. The crosscurrents in the comments and responses make the issues come alive, and broader applications (such as for value theory) are apparent. Overall, a terrific contribution.”

—Tara A. Smith, University of Texas-Austin