Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, January 2 - 3:09pmSanction this postReply

I launched my blog on 2 January 2011. The title was inspired by Gregory Browne’s Necessary Factual Truths (University Press of America, 2001).


I met Dr. Browne at Eastern Michigan University in the fall semester 2007. Waiting for a class in police operations, I was walking the halls and heard him lecturing. It was obviously a philosophy class and he sounded reasonable. I looked in and saw “Ayn Rand” on the blackboard closing an array of philosophers in historical sequence. A couple of weeks later, I heard him actually mention Ayn Rand. So, I introduced myself. And I bought the book format of his doctoral dissertation. It derives from a refutation by Leonard Peikoff of the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy.



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Sunday, January 3 - 4:24amSanction this postReply




Thanks, Michael!



One of the most noted essays of the twentieth century is Quine’s 1951 “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” which argues the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths, so dear in logical empiricism, is untenable. Necessary truths we have in logic and mathematics cannot receive their necessity of being true merely in virtue of meaning, which is to say, by being analytic truths. Furthermore, for analytic there is no noncircular and enduring rule establishing its extension. A logical truth such as A is identically A, in Quine’s view, need not get its truth only by our say-so meaning of is identically, but could as well get its truth by its capture of the way the world is (Quine 1954, 113).


In his 2016, Greg Salmieri notes that it is curious that Peikoff 1967 does not mention Quine’s “Two Dogmas.” Salmeiri points out some ways the Rand-Peikoff diagnoses of and remedies for the errors in analytic-versus-synthetic doctrines differ from Quine’s. Salmieri understands the later challenge of AvS from Kripke and Putnam to have more in common with the Objectivist challenge, though Putnam differs importantly from Rand on definitions and essences, which looms large in the Objectivist challenge (2016, 304n34, 311n87). Salmieri points to the book-review article, in JARS in 2005, by Roderick Long for thoughts on some relations between Randian theory of meaning and those of Kripke and Putnam.


Long’s 2005 review of Greg Browne’s book Necessary Factual Truth was followed a year later by a substantial reply from Browne and rejoinder by Long (JARS V7N1). From May to September of 2007, Prof. Browne engaged in a very generous exchange (his own words coming to about 19,000) in a thread at Objectivist Living defending the rejection by Peikoff of AvS and defending his own kindred rejection of AvS. Browne had in his arsenal the Kripke-Putnam developments that had been savaging AvS in the years since Peikoff 1967. Browne vigorously countered, in that thread, devotees of Logical Empiricism (and of Popper) who criticized (and poorly understood the revolution afoot, such as in) Peikoff 1967.


Late in that thread, Robert Campbell entered it only to ask Browne if he had any thoughts on why Peikoff had not addressed the famous Quine paper in his Peikoff’s dissertation, which Campbell had lately acquired. Browne had not seen the dissertation and had not much to conjecture on that peculiarity. (Peikoff 1964 is not written as a champion of Ayn Rand’s philosophic views, but, in an even-handed way, by an author acknowledging his background preference for some rehabilitated sort of logical ontologism and pointing near the end of the dissertation to some of that rehabilitation, such as fresh thinking on the nature of definitions and essence; distance between Quine’s views on logic and on AvS and Randian Peikoff views would not be the reason for no Quine in Peikoff 1964.) I should suggest that Quine, Carnap, Russell, and Wittgenstein raise such a briar patch of technicalities that it was better (and enough for deserving a Ph.D.) to stick with the more accessible and manageable Ayer, Nagel, Dewey, and Lewis to get the dissertation (already more than an armful in history assimilated) finally completed.





Browne, G.M. 2001. Necessary Factual Truth. Lanham: University Press of America.


Gotthelf, A. and G. Salmieri, editors, 2016. A Companion to Ayn Rand. Wiley Blackwell.


Long, R.T. 2005. Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis? —Review of Browne 2001. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7(1):209–28.


Peikoff, L. 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism. Ph.D. Thesis. New York University.

——. 1967. The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. In Rand 1990.


Quine, W.V.O. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In Quine 1980.

——. 1954. Carnap and Logical Truth. In Quine 1976.

——. 1976. The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard.

——. 1980. From a Logical Point of View. Cambridge: Harvard.


Rand, A. 1990 [1966–67]. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. Meridian.


Salmieri, G. 2016. The Objectivist Epistemology. In Gotthelf and Salmieri 2016.


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Saturday, January 9 - 2:43pmSanction this postReply

No, thank you, Stephen. Your understanding and interest is far beyond my own. I will excuse myself by pointing out that all that arguing among them took place in English. We have ways to speak about exclusive disjunction and inclusive disjunction. To achieve XOR we have to add "but not both." Ayn Rand invariably meant XOR. However, much harm is done by phrases such as "peace or freedom" and so on. Latin has vel and aut.  (I am not saying that we should only discuss these questions in Latin.) Similarly, there are languages with two kinds of "it" for persons (maybe other living things) and inanimate objects (and maybe other living things).  I think it was a German. versus I think it was a rock. We  have only the simple plural in English, but Russian and Greek (and others) have singular, dual, and plural: 1-2-many. You pays your moneys and you takes your choices. Two? Many?


Anyway, for me, at some level, I have to bow out of the landscapes that you enjoy because I get lost too easily. 

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