Talk:Objectivism

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This is an old revision of this page, as edited by Ubernetizen (talk | contribs) at 00:03, 23 August 2004 (→‎Neutrality). The present address (URL) is a permanent link to this revision, which may differ significantly from the current revision.

Previous comment at Talk:Objectivist philosophy (Archive), Talk:Objectivist philosophy (Archive2)

Hi, I noticed Objectivism has some external links in the article text. I know they are references, but is this proper format? Just asking... --ArcticFrog 14:02, 20 May 2004 (UTC)ArcticFrogReply[reply]

I reverted back to before the most recent deletion of the critiques section. This was already an issue in the past an in interest of consistancy, I think that if it is going to be deleted, it should be discussed here first. Please no edit wars.

- Augur / 66.176.46.28

It was discussed here first. Scroll to the bottom of the page. It will be deleted again. Philwelch 21:13, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I'm sorry but one person saying, "I don't see it elsewhere, so I'm going to delete it. Anyone object? No? Good, done," is not a discussion. And I also objected, therefore his justification of there being no objections is gone. Augur 21:05/est, 28 April 2004
Actually read the bottom of the page after you scroll there, okay? There was actual discussion of the issue. It was talked about prior to the final discussion, as was the idea of a separate "Criticisms of Objectivism" page. Philwelch 03:14, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)
All relevant portions are below, everything else is moved to Archive2. As you will see, this was discussed between myself and Scottryan, and since we're the two main editors of the article as it stands the decision was at the time unanimous. Being that he and I have added more to this article than nearly anyone else, the decision is pretty much authoritative at this point. You are, of course, more than welcome to create a separate "Criticisms of Objectivism" article and link it up. But you can't just come in here after the fact, having contributed nothing to the article while Scottryan and I have practically rewritten it, and start reversing our decisions. Besides, even if you do object, the vote to remove is still 2-1, that is, the 2 primary editors and contributors to the article versus 1 person who just came in here to start a fight. Philwelch 03:29, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)
This would all be good and well, but for the fact that I had done the same thing quite a while ago, and others reverted it, so I think that you two have but a small role in the grand scheme of things. I'm just saying, it was reversed once, on grounds that it was entirely appropriate for the article, and I think that if you're going to try and redelete it, it should be taken up with everyone, not just you two, but also the people who previously reverted it. They might, afterall, come back here and do it, to heck with your consensus. But I'll leave that be.
Augur 2004:05:01:22:38
You haven't made any logged in edits, and the one logged out edit that was reverted deleted the entire section and replaced it with "Criticism of Objectivism removed for it's lack of actual critique, and the ubiquity therein of appeals to popularity and appeals to authority. The beliefs and opinions of the majority do not make truth nor fact." This was apparently done without consultation on the talk page, and was done unilaterally. It was well within Michael Hardy's rights to do as he did, since he was basically reverting to correct unilateral vandalism. (Edit: It turns out that vandal WAS you, Augur, judging from the IP you gave in your first post.) The decision that Scottryan and I made to remove the section came over the course of days, at the end of which we were in agreement and no one else objected. Given that over the entire history of the article, Scottryan and I have done virtually all the writing that currently appears, and Michael Hardy is the only other significant contributor due to his editing, that made the decision virtually unanimous. No, Augur, it was taken up on this very talk page, which is where the decisions are made in Wikipedia. If we have another vandal come in and re-add it without discussing it with us, we'll deal with that. Philwelch 15:18, 3 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have simply added a link and modified the links list a bit to be non-offsite specific. The bickering is pointless. But don't think that because two people agreed to remove the section makes it any less vandalism than what I did. Bilateral vandalism is still vandalism, and populist methodology is far from being true to the articles philosophy. Try to remember that while you may have made the vast majority of the page, you have no rights to it, and so your opinion on who's a significant contributor is irrelevant. This is Wikipedia, not Welchipedia. Free means that I have just as much right to insist further discussion occur before modifying as you do to insist that the past "discussion" was sufficient. If you don't like that, perhaps you shouldn't be on wikipedia. - Augur.

If you wanted further discussion to occur before the modification was made, you should have come here on the talk page between the 4th and 24th of April, when it was still under discussion. You did not, and the change was made. If you want to come in here and reverse it, then it's up to you to argue your case and bring the rest of us to consensus. I don't necessarily disagree with the decision to move the criticisms back into the main article, but I do disagree with the manner in which you are doing it, because the manner in which you are doing it is in blatant disrespect for Wikipedia's standard working processes. Coming in here and claiming that we *didn't* follow the procedures of discussion and consensus, as if the two of us just walked in and removed the section (like you did a while ago) is the wrong way to go about this, Augur. Coming in and unilaterally reversing a decision reached on this talk page by consensus is trolling and vandalism--just the same as if you went to the page for Jerusalem and wrote, without any qualification, that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, ignoring the ongoing dispute over that subject on the talk page. If you're unwilling to go by the rules of consensus and unilaterally make whatever changes you like, maybe you shouldn't be on Wikipedia. Philwelch 19:57, 4 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It should also be noted that the general practice in Wikipedia is to include the criticisms in the article. Simple test: (a)does the sub-article make any damn sense outside the main article? (b) does the main article have at least a paragraph summary of the subarticle, or is it simply someone trying to shove a different point of view off somewhere out of sight? This fails both. As such, I'll be folding the "criticisms of" article back into the main article, where it belongs in short order unless you come up with really convincing reasons why not.
The thing is, a workable solution also has to be obviously correct when future editors happen upon the article. This isn't. - David Gerard 13:55, May 4, 2004 (UTC)
You make a good argument, and I'm inclined to agree with you. But I resent the implication that someone is trying to shove a different point of view out of sight. It was Scottryan's idea that I came to agree with, and Scottryan and I, as far as I've been able to tell, have radically different points of view as relates to the Objectivist philosophy. You may be right--the sections on criticism may indeed belong in the main article--but if you could have made that argument without implicitly insulting me you probably would have done a better job of convincing me. (On the same note, I apologize for the tone of some of my earlier messages.) Philwelch 19:57, 4 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My apologies - I don't mean to be rude, particularly as you've put a fair bit of good work into the article. I mean to say (and should have above) that sending criticisms off to a separate article is an unfortunately common tactic of people attempting to wish away a different POV. Generally, the criticism comes with the main article. - David Gerard 22:52, May 4, 2004 (UTC)
See below. As Phil Welch has correctly indicated, scooting the criticisms off to a separate page is hardly an attempt to bury an opposing POV. On the contrary, I'm a published critic of Rand/Objectivism myself and I came to suspect that a separate entry is the only way to do the criticisms justice (just as I came to think a massive rewrite of the original article was the only way to do Objectivism itself justice).
However, this isn't a cause over which I'm even remotely tempted to enter into mortal combat; I posted the excised portions here precisely so that recycling that stuff would be easy for anybody who turned out to disagree with me and Phil. Scottryan 01:56, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've integrated the link to the "criticism" article more elegantly into the article and made it prominent enough in the main text that it wouldn't look like anyone's pushing away a separate POV. (It's unusual to mix together external and internal links, Augur, just for future notice). Rhis should satisfy that concern. As to the rationale for making it a separate article, Scott has made a better argument than I could. Keep in mind that Objectivism is a complete, comprehensive philosophy, while say, logical positivism has a smaller scope. This means that there will be so many more criticisms of Objectivism, as one can criticize the metaphysics, or the epistemology, or the ethics, or the politics, while logical positivism isn't all that much more than a single, well-expanded-upon argument. Criticisms of Objectivism are substantial enough to rate their own article, criticisms of logical positivism are not. Philwelch 02:10, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the other hand, criticisms of logical positivism made up a large part of the philosophical work of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Whereas criticisms of Objectivism have made relatively little impact in the field of philosophy at large. Snowspinner 02:19, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As for the views of other philosophers -- okay, no need to include them. If they belong at all (as perhaps they do not), they belong in the section of criticisms, not the main exposition. Possibly (and quite arguably) there should be a separate entry for critiques of Objectivism and this entry should be _solely_ devoted to exposition.

Scottryan 14:32, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I've cleaned up the 'links' section and added several links to specific critiques. My next (and final) step, unless I hear an objection before I get around to doing it, will be to rewrite the section on 'critiques of Objectivism'.

Scottryan 12:15, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I've looked at other Wikipedia entries on philosophers and philosophies, and none of them seem to contain sections corresponding to the 'Criticisms of Objectivism' section in this one. Some of them, e.g. 'logical positivism, do contain sections of 'criticism', of course. But the one in this entry seems to be mainly concerned with _defending_ Objectivism against criticism, and in any case doesn't include anything like a representative sampling of critical viewpoints.

I suspect this section doesn't belong in the entry at all; if somebody wants to read criticism of Objectivism and responses thereto, the external links I've added seem to do the job just fine. Anybody have any opinions about whether to remove it?

Scottryan 14:49, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I've been thinking along the lines of making a separate "Criticisms of Objectivism" article, but deletion is okay too. Philwelch 15:39, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I like the idea of a separate article and made a similar suggestion a bit further up the page. I think that's probably the best way to go. But I'll wait a day or two before removing that section in case anybody else wants to weigh in. Scottryan 02:00, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Hearing no objections, I have removed the 'Criticism' section. I don't think it belongs under this entry, but a separate entry on the subject might be helpful. For reference and in case anybody wants to recycle it, here's what I excised:

Criticisms of Objectivism

Consider: The following criticisms include appeals to popularity fallacies. Just because many forms of humanist philosophies and Abrahamic religions hold something to be true does not make it such. Much the same, just because Objectivism holds something to be true does not mean that it is. Consider the reasoning behind the arguments, and keep in mind the logical fallacies you might encounter.

Ayn Rand writes "Man - every man - is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life."

Many forms of humanist philosophy, and most of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, hold this belief to be immoral. Both humanists and most members of the Abrahamic faiths hold that people must not live for their own sakes, and that morality calls for people to sometimes sacrifice themselves for others. (It is far from clear, however, that proponents of such views use the word/concept "sacrifice" in its Randian sense. However, Rand did view, for instance, Christ giving up his life, according to Christianity, to be a true sacrifice, as it sacrificed an ideal man for the sake of nonideal men. Another claim at issue is simply that a moral person finds or achieves at least some of his or her own "values" through benefitting others. Objectivism largely agrees with this issue, and Rand herself even stated, for instance, that she would step in the way of gunfire to protect her husband, and that this was rational and selfish because she could not bear to live without him..)

Some critics, including Nathaniel Branden, claim that some influential promoters of Objectivism (including the Ayn Rand Institute) tend to diametrically oppose its stated tenets, promoting "individualism" as conformity to the words and writings of Ayn Rand. This is the context in which most critics of Objectivism and of certain Objectivist organizations criticize the theory of evasion, or its practical application. This is usually stated not as an objection to Objectivism itself (Nathaniel Branden still identifies himself as an Objectivist) but as an objection to the misinterpretation of Objectivism.

Finally, a great number of political and philosophical currents challenge the ethics of Objectivism on utilitarian grounds. They define a moral society as one that provides the maximum good for the maximum number of people, claiming that some initiation of force or altruism is necessary to achieve that end.

Other political critics of Objectivism criticize it based upon their interpretation of the history of the 19th century in the United States, which they viewed as true capitalism. (Others have responded by stating that even in the 19th century the United States did not have a pure capitalist system, and that the facts and interpretations thereof used by opponents of capitalism are flawed.) Other critics attempt to refute Rand's separation of economics and state by pointing to the differences between religion (which is a personal matter) and economics (which concerns society as a whole). This critique is based upon the unstated premise that religion does not concern society as a whole while economics similarly does not concern people on an individual basis.

Many anarcho-capitalists view Objectivism's principle of noninitiation of force to contradict with Objectivism's insistence on a monopoly of government, claiming that initiation of force would be necessary in order to maintain such a monopoly. Some Objectivists counter by citing the right to secession, which is valid under Objectivism.

As of 2004 there appear to have been few attempts to criticize Rand's epistemology systematically. In one such attempt, Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology (2003), Scott Ryan criticizes Rand's defense of reason from a vantage point of more or less Blanshardian rationalism. Ryan maintains that Rand was in fact defending only a greatly weakened conception of reason and points out what he believes to be a number of inconsistencies (and areas of incompetence) in her epistemology. (Among other things, he takes her to task for what he describes as her misunderstanding of the problem of universals, which has throughout the history of philosophy been regarded as a problem not of epistemology but of metaphysics.) Greg Nyquist's Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature is less specifically focused on epistemology but takes Rand to task from a more "empiricist" foundation.

Scottryan 00:42, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I think that a section discussing objections to objectivism would be reasonable in this article. First of all, objectivism has something of a credibility gap in the academy - Ayn Rand isn't really seen as a reputable philosopher, and so criticisms of her are in some ways more important than, say, of Spinoza, because one of the pressing questions about Rand is why she's not taught.

The other thing is that Objectivism is a popular movement in a way in which a lot of philosophy isn't - this also distinguishes it, and should probably be discussed. Snowspinner 23:22, 4 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These are good points and they do indicate that a section of criticisms might be appropriate within the article. But they're also good arguments for a separate entry on criticisms of Objectivism (and I say that as one of its critics, not as someone who's trying to get opposing viewpoints shoved off the page). Then, too, the article had grown to a length of nearly 34K; as I worked on it, I was getting wikiwarnings suggesting that it be cleft in twain.
At any rate I do think the excised section needs some massive rewriting, and having just done a major top-to-bottom rewrite/expansion of the entire rest of the article, I'm not going to do it myself at the moment. If somebody else wants to put it back in, feel free; that, as I indicated above, is why I saved the parts I cut out. Either way, I'll probably make some attempt to tweeze that section in a couple of weeks if nobody else has gotten around to it by then. Scottryan 01:47, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I typically take the length warning to mean that it should be broken up into subsections using the == header tags. Since those can be edited separately, it solves the length problem. There are plenty of far longer articles. I tend to like having everything in one article instead of spin-off articles, which do have the effect of shunting criticism off to other pages. Snowspinner 02:00, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If length had been the only consideration, I'd agree entirely in this case as well. In the final analysis I think there are two apparently feasible ways to go: (1) a short section summarizing some criticism of Objectivism and linking to a separate article that presents them in more detail and depth; (2) a longer section in _this_ article that does that job.
The current version of that section doesn't do the job either way. Except for its final paragraph (which I wrote), it reads as though proponents and opponents of Objectivism have edited it back and forth trying to win arguments against each other. As it stands, the section doesn't present a good overview of the range of critical responses to Objectivism; it focuses on a very narrow range of limited-scope issues and doesn't give a fair and informative summary of either side. Rand has been criticized on grounds that include her style, her scholarship, her lack of originality, her understanding of other philosophers, and -- most importantly for philosophical purposes -- the success or otherwise of her attempt to construct a positive philosophy (which according to Rand herself was not only, or even primarily, a theory of politics). Almost none of this is represented in the section as it stands (which is one major reason why I added all the offsite links to articles critical of Objectivism in various respects).
Nor does the current section do justice to the sources of such criticism. My own article on the secondary literature of Objectivism, published in the Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society last year, ran to twenty-one pages. I certainly don't think an encyclopedia entry has to list every one of the items I discuss in my literature review, but it would be nice if it at least mentioned the top six-to-ten and gave some indication what they were about. (By the way, if anybody else wants to tackle a rewrite job before I get around to it and thinks my literature review might be helpful, I'll be happy to email you an electronic copy.)
I don't have anything much at stake on the question whether to incorporate a revised section of criticisms into the article itself or break it out and link to it as a separate entry. Despite a mild preference for a separate entry, I'm happy with it either way, and even if I weren't, it's not just up to me. However, if you agree that the section needs some rewriting, I do suggest that it receive that rewriting _before_ (or _as_) it gets reincorporated into the article. I won't have time/energy to do that job myself for a week or two, but I'm willing to do it if no one else has gotten around to it by then.
Scottryan 12:10, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hey, I just realized (while tweaking the criticisms section) that there's no section on Rand's _esthetics_ (_The Romantic Manifesto_ and all that). Here again, I'll write one in the future if nobody else gets around to it in the meantime.

Scottryan 12:44, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]


All right, here's what I've done. I dug out my article and pulled out all the information on works critical of Rand/Objectivism, trimmed down my own comments and reorganized the list a bit, and stuck the result into the 'Criticism' section as a bibliography.

For the purposes of this entry there's no particular reason why the works need to be divided according to their pre- and post-humousness with respect to Rand, so if anybody wants to resort them, be my guest. I think I've been reasonably careful not to include any POV problems but if you spot any, go right ahead and remove them. (Pay particular attention to the entry for my own book, where you will naturally entertain the most suspicions about my objectivity.)

It might also be worth considering whether this list of sources would be better placed in the 'Criticism' entry rather than here. Again, feel free.

(Oh -- and if there are any works that should be taken out or added, have at it, of course.)

Scottryan 15:33, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I like Snowspinner's solution.

Scottryan 22:48, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks. Incidentally, I can spell. Really. I promise. Snowspinner 22:49, 5 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I really like what's been done. The critiques could still use more fleshing out, but this is turning into a spectacular article--this and the bibliography. Philwelch 03:54, 7 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Glad you like it. Yeah, I think it's turning out well (and I agree that some work on the criticisms section would be nice). Scottryan 14:18, 7 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this page needs a substantially shorter intro and breaking up of the dense text with subsections - its a very long article. At the moment it is quite hard to read and is unlikely to interest the casual reader, despite substantial content.
Obviously, it depends who you are targeting the article at, but at the moment it's won't enlighten those who aren't specifically looking for further information building on what they already know.
Perhaps I am just being Philistine, but I do have a strong interest in philosophy and these were my impressions of the current article. -- EuroTom 13:56, 20 May 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nonetheless, hacking it into pieces is not the right solution. It's over 34k, yes, but that's why we have subsections. As for readability, I will say that while Scottryan added a lot more information to the article, he did so at the cost of readability. I appreciate his additions, but it could use another all-out rewrite. Keep in mind, however, that Objectivism is a heavily substantial topic that will lead to a content-heavy article. Philwelch 23:08, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)

"Rand is also criticized for supposed inaccuracies in her accounts of history. She claims that the economic system in the United States during the 19th century is an example of true capitalism, for example -- a claim that many would dispute."

This is simply not true. Ayn Rand said that the 19th century was the closest the United States came to “true” capitalism – a very different claim. --GreedyCapitalist 21:24, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

private property vs capitalism unclear

i don't know if the following problem is an intrinsic problem of objectivism or whether it's a lack of clarity which could be improved by making the wording less ambiguous.

Indeed, on the Objectivist account, one of the corollaries of the right to life is the right to property, i.e., to the disposition of the product of one's own effort; on this view, one person's right to life cannot entail the right to dispose of the products of another's effort.

This seems to me to say that an individual human being should not own property which is the product of another's effort, e.g. you can own a house and a garden but not an organisation, since an organisation is due to many people's efforts.

On the Objectivist account, the rights of other human beings are not of direct moral import to the agent who respects them; they acquire their moral purchase through an intermediate step. An Objectivist respects the rights of other human beings out of the recognition of the value to himself or herself of living in a world in which the freedom of action of other rational (or potentially rational) human beings is respected.

OK, it's rather solipsistic, but at least this paragraph seems to me internally consistent.

According to Objectivism, then, one's respect for the rights of others is founded on the value, to oneself, of other persons as actual or potential trading partners. Here is where Objectivism's claim about conflicts of interest attains its full significance: on the Objectivist view, it is precisely because there are no (irresoluble) such conflicts that it is possible for human beings to prosper in a rights-respecting society.

OK, let's suppose that this is true regarding absence of irresolvable conflicts.

Objectivist political theory therefore defends capitalism as the ideal form of human society. Objectivism reserves the name "capitalism" for full laissez-faire capitalism...

Here is what i don't understand. There are 6 billion of us. If there is no collective property, and the only property considered morally acceptable is by individuals based on their personal efforts, then AFAIK there cannot be much accumulation of capital - certainly not on the scale to build aeroplanes or train lines or electricity generating and distributing systems, since any of these involve property which is the cumulative effort of many people, and since no collective property is allowed, nor ownership of property due to other people's efforts, these collective systems cannot exist in the model - at best there can be small, tribal-level, agricultural communities of 30-40 people as in '60s self-sufficient-back-to-nature experimental communities. In fact, even any sort of building beyond the size of a family house would have to be abandoned, since otherwise there would be either collective property or private property based on other people's efforts.

In any case, AFAIK, laissez-faire capitalism

  • encourages the accumulation of capital way beyond what any individual has created through his/her own efforts, and
  • it does not ban inheritance from one's parents
  • encourages the setting of prices by bargaining power, not by rational interests
  • it encourages the existence of companies with much more than one employee, i.e. where there is a collective form of property due to the collective efforts of many people in the company - the fact that one individual may own this property, or that a bunch of people, many of who did not contribute effort in producing the property, nevertheless do dispose of the products of another's effort to a very great extent, which is earlier stated to be contrary to objectivism.

So i don't understand the link between private property related to one's personal efforts and capitalism - the term private property in capitalism certainly can mean individual property gained from one's own efforts in production, but also means individual property gained by dominating others, by manipulating others, and/or by using one's claimed or real superiority over others, and it also means property owned collectively by a group or network of people which decides things secretly and is not subject to elections or any other form of democratic participation by the people contributing the efforts to that property...

It seems to me that objectivism, at least as explained here, is appropriate for hippy communities of 30-40 people, but not for a 6 billion member society.

Anyway, if this is an intrinsic self-contradiction in objectivism, then IMHO there's nothing to be changed in the article; on the contrary, if i've misunderstood, then maybe someone might want to make a clarification.

Boud 01:30, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Yeah, your main misunderstanding is that Objectivism has nothing against creating wealth by collective effort. However, all that wealth does end up with individual owners thanks to contracts and trade. If I hired 2000 people to design and build airplanes, those people could consent to provide their services to me for a price. I would pay that price and thus buy from them the fruits of their effort. This is an elementary explanation--more detailed explanations can be given for more complicated situations. Philwelch 09:38, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for the response, but in that case IMHO there is a correction to be made. Instead of one person's right to life cannot entail the right to dispose of the products of another's effort., there should be the phrase one person's right to life cannot entail the right to dispose of the products of another's effort, unless the products of another's effort are transferred by contract and/or trade. Boud 01:18, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I took the opportunity to expand that section. Thanks! Philwelch 02:43, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)


Thanks, i modified your change a bit to make the logical relation clearer. i also added what i guess is probably intended in objectivism, that the receiving/giving of one's property is carried out under a contract with no coercion. I admit i'm only guessing here - but if objectivism says nothing about this, then it's a big weakness. In the real world, most transfers of the products of one's effort are traded under various forms of coercion, some more subtle, some more obviously manipulative, some overtly violent. Boud 15:22, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Neutrality

As this article clearly lacks a detailed section on criticism of the "philosophy" such as bashing of environmentalists (tree-huggers), ignorance of social welfare (monopolies are there because some firms are just better), etc., I added a note about a neutrality dispute. Get-back-world-respect 11:47, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"Bashing environmentalists" is not a tenet of the philosophy. This is something that a proponent of the philosophy might do, in which case your criticism would belong in the article on that person. Objectivism is also not "ignorant of social welfare" (a claim that is inherently POV), it describes one particular view of social welfare and pointing out that it differs from other views on the subject is redundant. Your neutrality dispute is out of line.Ubernetizen 18:56, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Generally advocates of Objectivism have held that we should keep the environment clean because we humans need that, and condemned those environmentalists who have appealed to supposed rights of Nature (in its extreme form the latter have said that we humans should exterminate ourselves as a species in order to protect Nature from our depredations). Michael Hardy 19:35, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I don't think his POV concern is out of line at all. There are debates (some quite heated) over objectivism in general, and Rand in specific, this is hardly represented by the sections in the wikipedia article. All the links here are "pro" Objectivism (until I added 2, which took me all of 2 seconds to find on Google.) There is absolutely no sense of debate to the level that it exists. -Vina 20:10, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The purpose of an encyclopedia entry for a particular philosophy is an explanatory one; it should describe what the philosophy is and put it into context. It is not the place for an extensive debate about the merits of the philosophy or its adherents, and the article needn't catalogue every single criticism - indeed, such a task would be impossible. If he wants to add something, let him, but POV objections should be reserved for faulty wording or bias (e.g., stating an opinion as fact or expressing value-judgments), not the failure of an article that is, after all, about Objectivism to list all the non-Objectivist views which oppose it and/or criticisms leveled at Rand herself. I believe his POV objection is inappropriate. Ubernetizen 23:32, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)
As the article has a section about criticism but that does not cover criticism neutrally, the neutrality of the whole article is questionable.
Relating environmentalists to people who want to "exterminate ourselves as a species in order to protect Nature from our depredations" is exactly the kind of bashing "tree-huggers" I was thinking about when I mentioned that Objectivists are often criticized.
As much as Scientology or Socialism have sections about criticism of how they are practised, this article should have this as well. Get-back-world-respect 14:17, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Perhaps you didn't follow the link to the bibliography-of-objectivism page, where criticisms of Objectivism are well represented. I originally posted that bibliography under the Objectivism entry, and it was moved (by Snowspinner, for what I think were good and cogent reasons) to a new entry. My own view is that the old 'criticisms' section should at that point have been deleted altogether, but others apparently disagree and I don't intend to press the issue.
In general, as regards the alleged neutrality problems, bear in mind that the article isn't supposed to do anything but summarize what Objectivism says. I massively rewrote it a few months ago to do precisely that, and I am not by any stretch of the imagination an Objectivist myself; in fact I'm the author of a book highly critical of Rand and her epistemology and I disagree with many of the points summarized in what I wrote. This isn't the place to argue about them; corrections here should be limited to corrections about what Objectivism says, not about whether Objectivism is right to say those things.
As for property rights not entailing the right to dispose of the property of others: this is accurate as it stands, although it's helpful to have the additional comment (thanks, Philwelch) elaborating on freedom of contract. That is, it's correct that according to Objectivism, the right to property does not itself entail the right to dispose of others' property; the fact that we can acquire such rights via contract is another matter.--Scottryan 15:52, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
GBWR, there IS a criticism section - what specific passages within or without it do you consider not neutral?? Blanket statements will not suffice. You do not have grounds to challenge its neutrality simply because the article does not reflect your own bias enough. If you want to add something go right ahead, but the neutrality dispute is unwarranted. Which leads me to my next question, which is: are you planning to make any contributions yourself? Since the NPOV dispute is meant to be a temporary measure, I think it behooves you to state what your intentions are. Ubernetizen 22:48, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I think GBWR's point is that having an unrepresentatively narrow range of criticisms in that section somehow calls into question the neutrality of the entire article.
I tend to agree with the underlying point (that the criticism section, if included, should more adequately reflect the full range of criticisms that have been levelled against Objectivism) and I've already made my attempt to deal with that problem.
I tend to disagree that the present shortcomings of that section somehow reflect badly on the entire piece (especially since I'm personally responsible for the majority of the rewriting of the rest of it, and for the bulk of the content now posted on the bibliography page, which I lifted from my own article in the Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society).
As Ubernetizen says, the proper Wikipedia-spirited thing to do with a section you think isn't adequate (or 'neutral') is to do what I did with the entire rest of the entry: git off yer duff and rewrite it instead of tagging the entire entry with a disputed-neutrality flag.
At the very least, even if you don't feel competent to edit that part of the entry yourself, shouldn't your neutrality flag be limited to the criticisms section?--Scottryan 15:29, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

It's been two weeks since I posted my last comment here, and I haven't seen anything further from Get-back-world-respect on the subject of neutrality (although there's an edit by GBWR dated 11 August). So far, every specific feature of the article that GBWR has complained about has been addressed, either by editing the article or by (my) pointing out that there's a broad-spectrum sample of criticism available on the 'bibliography of Objectivism' page.

May I infer that the neutrality of this article is not in dispute any longer? Or am I justified only in inferring that GBWR doesn't plan to do or say anything further about it? Either way, I think it's long past time to remove the neutrality-dispute warning.

Please note that I haven't done so yet. In the interests of consensus, I'd rather not do it unilaterally until GBWR's concerns -- whatever they are -- have been addressed. But I will do it unless GBWR, or someone else who still disputes the article's neutrality and is willing to say why, speaks up on the subject. (I think we can safely assume that the neutrality of any article on Objectivism will always be 'disputed' by somebody somewhere; such news isn't worthy of posting unless the dispute is backed by substantive reasons not already dealt with.)

--Scottryan 22:51, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I agree Scott, and was just about to post something similar. GBWR has had ample time to either make changes or respond to my question about what specifically he finds biased in favor of Objectivism. That he has chosen to do nothing indicates to me that he just wants to bitch. Ubernetizen 00:03, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)