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Inequality and the Denial of Free Will
Join Yaron Brook as he discusses his new book, co-authored with ARI fellow Don Watkins, Equal Is Unfair. Dr. Brook will examine how the arguments of today’s critics of economic inequality rest on the denial of the individual’s power of choice and how Rand’s account of free will helps us cut through and clarify prominent, thorny issues in the inequality debate.
The life of a creature without free will is determined by factors outside its control, so it is not responsible for what it does or what becomes of it. But because human beings have free will, the shape our lives take is up to us. True, we are born into circumstances that are not of our own making, and there are facts of nature that we cannot change, but there are countless lives possible to each us, and by recognizing what you cannot control and taking responsibility for what you can, you can create a life of which you can be proud and in which you will be happy.
In this talk Dr. Salmieri discusses some insights from Ayn Rand’s ethics that can help you to achieve such happiness. Topics include Rand’s view that all human values are chosen, rather than innate; the role of reason in forming values; the facts of human nature that she thinks must inform rational values; and the need to organize your life around a productive purpose.
As a young person looking to the future and thinking about the life you want to create for yourself, it’s not enough just to know that you have free will. You also need to put this understanding into practice. What kinds of issues and choices will you face as you seek to define and build the career and life you want?
We’ve invited a leader in the tech industry — Bran Amerige (engineering manager of app experience at Facebook) — and a tenure-track professor of cognitive neuroscience — Dale Stevens (assistant professor of psychology at York University) — to talk about their career paths in business and academia. They’ll discuss the major decision-points that brought them to their current positions, the choices they face on a daily basis in life and at work, and how Objectivism has helped them navigate all of this.
Keith Lockitch, vice president of educational programs at the Ayn Rand Institute, will host this interview-style panel discussion.
The attitude toward free speech among college students today ranges from ambivalence to outright hostility. Students cry “microaggression” at the slightest offense. They demand “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” to protect them from controversial ideas. They attempt to ban speakers at public universities and support other bans on speech.
Why is this happening? What can be done? How does it relate to free will?
Join our panelists — Steve Simpson, ARI’s director of Legal Studies; DePaul University professor Jason Hill; and Nico Perrino of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — to hear their take on this important issue and to offer your own thoughts and experiences. The panel will consist of brief opening remarks by each of the panelists and then questions from the audience.
Building on Dr. Salmieri’s discussion of Ayn Rand’s ethics, Dr. Gorlin’s talk provides research- and practice-based psychological guidance for choosing your values and creating a happy, self-directed life in accordance with them. She discusses strategies for increasing self-awareness and value clarity, distinguishing between the controllable and uncontrollable aspects of your thoughts and feelings (and dealing with each accordingly), and increasing autonomy and enjoyment in your relationships through assertive communication.
“Give me liberty or give me death.” This inspiring slogan from the American revolutionary period is all the more impressive when we remember that the revolutionaries were not trying to flee a totalitarian dictatorship but were rebelling against what at the time was one of the freest, most prosperous nations. There is an important lesson here: people who understand that as rational beings they possess free will demand, in full, the political freedom expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
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