April 2014   March’s and Aprils blog posts are aimed at bleeding heart libertarians, who think John Rawls could offer a better defense of capitalism than does Ayn Rand or any theory of rights.   My editions and translations of Jacopo Zabarella’s On Methods and On Regressus are now available. Harvard I, II. Amzn I, II. B&N III.   I’m deep into a new reading of Posterior Analytics B 19. I now think the text has been importantly misread in several places.

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New Libertarians: New Promoters of a Welfare State. A new libertarianism is coming—more accommodating, less strident, more pragmatic, less hard core, more moderate.

A Dog-Eat-Dog World: Rand vs. Rawls. Ayn Rand and John Rawls start from fundamentally different views of human nature.

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, but Not Property. Property is not on that list with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And it shouldn’t be.

More: Inalienable Rights, Civil Rights, and GunsHow Best to Attack Ayn Rand’s SystemInitiation of the Use of Physical ForceAltruism Can’t WorkSelfish Things to Do in Life

 

Scholarship

The main theme of my research is that the philosophical problem of induction is an artifact of a bad turn taken in the early 19th century, by which induction came to be conceived as a logic of propositional inference that depends on a suppressed uniformity principle. In antiquity and from Bacon to Whewell, induction was instead conceived as a logic of classification.

Teaching

For several years at Stanford University, I taught a seminar on the history of scientific methods and a seminar on moral foundations of capitalism. In 2011, I taught a course on history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology. In fall 2012, I taught the capitalism seminar for the Political Theory Project at Brown University and then the following year a seminar on Ayn Rand.

Service

Board of Advisors, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology • Occasional referee for HOPOS • Consulting, then Contributing, Editor, The Objective Standard, 2007–11 • Founder and Chairman, Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, 2001–10 • Board Member, Ayn Rand Institute, 2004–10 • Advisor, John P. McCaskey Foundation

Students’ Comments

“A great class. One of the best I’ve ever taken and by a wide margin the most thought provoking.” • “By far the most challenging and most rewarding course I’ve taken thus far at Stanford.” • “One of the best classes I’ve taken at Brown!” • “I’ve never had as much fun doing readings, writing papers and learning as I did in these two courses.” • “I’ve always liked precision of logic but wasn’t aware how it could be applied to morality.” • “It’s one of those classes that changes the way you look at things.”

Photograph of JohnAfter spending twenty years in the computer business, I went back to school and got a PhD in history from Stanford. I mostly now research the history of philosophy of science, but I also teach some history of 20th century political philosophy.

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