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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 197

Yaron Brook on Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and Objectivism

Atlas Shrugged (book cover)

Yaron Brook is an Israeli-American entrepreneur, writer, and activist who for 18 years was the Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, where he now serves as the chairman of the board. He is the co-founder of BH Equity Research, manages a hedge fund, and is the author of several books in which he analyzes a variety of topics from an Objectivist perspective. He earned an MBA in 1989 and a Ph.D. in finance in 1994 from the University of Texas at Austin. He was a finance professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. He is a columnist for Forbes and has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily and others, and is the co-author of Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality, and Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

Shermer and Brook discuss:

  • individualism vs. collectivism,
  • the nature of human nature: in addition to being selfish, competitive, and greedy, we also harbor a great capacity for altruism, cooperation, and charity (Brook disagrees),
  • the starting point of morality and the foundation of ethics,
  • collective action problems and how they are best solved (privately or publicly),
  • What do we owe others?
  • Do we have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves?
  • Does American have a moral obligation to help oppressed peoples in dictatorships?
  • the Is-Ought problem of determining right and wrong in some objective manner,
  • reason and empiricism as the foundation of justified true belief,
  • immigration, abortion, foreign wars, the welfare state, terrorism,
  • Israel, Palestine, and the solution to the conflict,
  • reparations: what do we owe others?
  • private vs. public charity/welfare,
  • Why don’t liberals/progressives/feminists like Rand? She is a woman, an immigrant from an oppressed minority (Jewish), created strong independent woman who ran major corporations and enjoyed successful professional careers. Is the politics stronger than the identity in Identity Politics?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium.

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on August 3, 2021.

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