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Passionate About JARS

Not to be sacrilegious or anything, but HALLELUAH and HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST (the Western Palm Sunday has arrived, hasn't it?). I finished preparing the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and I am delighted that it's now going into production. Readers should expect it sometime in the late Spring.

It's going to be a really nice issue for those who are especially interested in Ayn Rand's ethics. JARS had published two critical essays on Rand's ethics some time ago, one written by Eric Mack and the other by Douglas Rasmussen. The essays elicited replies in the forthcoming issue from Tibor Machan and Frank Bubb, and both Mack and Rasmussen have written rejoinders. In addition, we have a very interesting exchange on the issue of egoism and individual rights, which features a contribution from Robert Bass, replies from Chris Cathcart and Robert Campbell, and a rejoinder from Bass.

The second half of the issue features essays on epistemology (Jetton), Rand's descriptive style (Saint-Andre), Atlas Shrugged and Quo Vadis (Keefner), Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand (Sheldon Richman), and reviews of Stephen Hicks's book on postmodernism (Hocutt), Ed Younkins's book Capitalism and Commerce (Yates), and Robert Mayhew's edited volume on Rand's Q&A's (Brown).

Abstracts and contributor biographies will be made available online when the issue is published and ready for shipment.

Meanwhile, I was just alerted to an ongoing debate at SOLO-Passion, which, apparently, has given rise to some familiar criticism of JARS, a journal that remains near and dear to my heart.

As readers of Notablog are well aware, I resolved at the beginning of December 2005 that I would not be posting to forums anymore. Aside from the occasional cross-post to Liberty and Power Group Blog or the Mises Economics Blog, I have stopped posting to the nearly two dozen forums on which I was once an avid participant. My reputation for spreading myself around led SOLO founder Lindsay Perigo to once dub me "Her Royal Whoreness." Well, this whore has retired to the quiet life of research, writing, and editing. There are just so many hours in the day, and I have chosen to focus my efforts on the things that are most important: My work done my way on my time. Naturally, therefore, Notablog has become the primary place for my regular musings on everything from music to foreign policy.

On a personal note, I should add, however, that my absence from the various forums on which I used to participate has also been necessitated by ongoing serious health problems, which have compelled me to be extremely selective about the kind of time I devote to various activities. Since making these various adjustments in my time, my schedule, and my priorities, I have been feeling more invigorated, both emotionally and intellectually, and ever more productive.

Nevertheless, since JARS has been one of the activities on which I've focused, and since JARS is also the target of much criticism on that particular SOLO-Passion forum noted above, I'd like to make a few general comments in response to the various participants on that thread. I do not intend to engage in any discussion at SOLO-Passion or any other forums for the reasons I have just outlined.

First, Lindsay Perigo and I have had a very long dispute about the character of my work, and I don't expect it will ever be resolved to our mutual satisfaction. That said, however, I don't believe that he has read more than an issue or two of JARS (and, quite frankly, too many JARS critics don't seem to be on our subscription list, so it leaves me wondering how they are able to make such sweeping generalizations about the quality of the scholarship therein). In any event, to dismiss JARS as a haven of "pomo-wankers" is, I think, a slap in the face to so many writers who have graced our pages, including such people as Erika Holzer, George Reisman, Larry Sechrest, Kirsti Minsaas, Mimi Gladstein, Tibor Machan, Douglas Rasmussen, Eric Mack, Marsha Enright, John Enright, John Hospers, Adam Reed, Stephen Hicks, Fred Seddon, Lester Hunt, Ari Armstrong, Edward Younkins, Robert White, and so many others. Dare I say it, but many of these writers have appeared in the pages of The Free Radical, and have been published on SOLO. And last I saw, there was no explosion of "pomo-wanking" going on at SOLO.

Second, with regard to Diana Hsieh's criticisms of JARS: Over time, it has become very clear to readers that I have had some very serious disagreements with Diana, someone to whom I once acted as a mentor of sorts. Diana is now participating regularly at SOLO-Passion; she also runs the Noodlefood blog. Diana remarked at SOLO that she had promised not to comment "on The Russian Radical or the scholarship in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ... steer[ing] clear of such criticisms out of consideration for [her] past friendship [with me]." But I think anybody with half a brain could see the fundamental differences that have emerged between Diana and me on many, many significant questions. As my mother used to say: You'd have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid not to know where those differences lie. Diana and I do not have to spend hours upon hours doing a point-counterpoint in order to articulate those differences.

Because I am so focused on my own work at this time, I have taken a very laissez-faire attitude toward all this. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time engaging my interlocutors. But I've learned that there is only so much that one can say in any given context. Ultimately, my work speaks for itself. It is published in books, articles, encyclopedias, and journals. Much of it is accessible on the web as well. Form your own conclusions, go your own way, do your own thing. If I spent my time answering every criticism or every comment on my work, I'd not have enough time to breathe, let alone research, write, and edit.

Finally, for those who wonder, like Phil Coates, whether JARS articles are generally available: We do hope to get many of these articles online over the course of time, but some are already linked from the JARS site. Just go to any particular indexed issue and click into any hyperlinked title. (I should add that all of JARS' contributors have the right to make their articles available on any website or as a reprint in any anthology.)

Our institutional subscriptions are climbing, as are our individual subscriptions, both domestically and globally. And we are now indexed by over a dozen abstracting services in the humanities and social sciences, including three new additions, which had been very resistant to placing JARS in their indices. See here for more information.

Well, that's all for now.

Comments welcome.


Ha! Some irony in a site with a masturbatory name like "SOLO Passion" calling JARS a porno-wanker production. I'm glad you're not wasting your time wrangling with them any more.


As usual, you maintain the comportment of a gentleman, even in the face of disparaging insinuations and remarks meant to diminish the importance of both your work, and that of many others. From this blog entry I can sense that you have decided to respond to your detractors in the manner that they deserve: if I may use an overused metaphor, you’ve decided to “shrug” them off.

Well done, Chris; let the mosquitoes buzz as they will. Their on-line masturbations are just that, and no more.


PS: The best batting line-up in the majors, and our pitching sucks so bad I could cry… we’re staring to look like the Texas Rangers did in the 90s.


You keep doing your magnificent work. There's an old saying from the Brazilian underworld that comes to mind: "Sometimes you can't help running with pigs. The secret is to never eat with them."

You are an inspiration to me.



When will JARS have online issues? You will radically increase your subscription base if you go online and make some back issues available.



It strikes me as a great pity that you must decline the chance for a truly unprecedented dialogue.

For so long I’ve heard complaints about how ARI scholars won’t engage the folks from TOC, JARS, etc. This accusation no longer sticks with me. Over at SOLOPassion ARI scholars are talking to everyone and about everything – and giving each a fair chance for such engagement. Issues that have been festering for too long are being discussed for the first time – by everyone, except, unfortunately, you.

I am very sorry that your schedule makes your participation in this unprecedented moment impossible.

Congratulations Chris! Your hard work and dedication are invaluable contributions to Rand Studies. I’m glad you’re felling better. Don’t risk your health and be bated into an argument with your detractors. I, like George, find the verbal masturbation on SOLO-Passion tiresome.


I've been a suscriber of JARS since the beginning. Russian Radical and JARS is what got me interested in Rand after a long hiatus.

Until JARS' "enemies" start critiquing actual JARS articles, I think their criticism should be ignored.

Just a note of thanks to the various commentators here. And a couple of points in response:

There will be a movement toward putting JARS articles online in the coming year. I'll keep everyone abreast of our development in this regard, indeed.

James, I appreciate your wanting me to participate in this dialogue at SOLO, but you have to understand that I've been participating in that kind of dialogue for about 15 years now, with both ARI and TOC scholars. I participated on forums such as apo and hpo, and many other Objectivist and Objectivist-oriented forums, even Diana's blog at one time---and, in all honesty and I never had problems engaging people from all corners of the Randian galaxy. But after 15 years of doing this, I can honestly say that some of the issues have changed, and even some of the loyalties, but the arguments and discussions are extremely familiar. I just don't know how many times I can go back to the well and say the same thing over and over again, without wasting time better spent on my own productive activities. And ultimately, the changes I've made to my own schedule over the past six months have enriched me and my work. I can't think of a finer testament to my admiration of Rand's ethos than that commitment to my self.

But I never say never; perhaps some day, I will find myself on one of these forums again. For now, come and visit me at Notablog. :)

As an aside, I should state that since I've been absent from these forums, the web "hits" at my site and Notablog have soared to unprecedented levels. I'm very pleased by how this site in particular has evolved.

Thanks again for all the comments, and, George: The season is early. But I'm not pleased. ;)


Chris: Good for you! I know I make it a point to look at notablog everyday. Keep up the good work.

What attracts me is the nonpartisan approach of JARS.

Mr. Valliant,

Unless I'm missing something over at SOLOPassion, I don't see much of an effort by ARI associated folks to interact with material published by non-ARI types on a serious level.

I read attacks on JARS, not an attempt to interact with any article published there.

An example: I pointed out that in the most recent JARS there was an excellent essay by Rod Long discussing Rand's view of concepts with the Quine/Putnam view. I suggested that an ARI person might interact with this piece. The response? As someone used to say, "blank out."

Or: Ms. Hsieh attacked Fred Seddon on the most unreliable source on Kant. When Seddon asked for an example, I don't recall a response.


Each side will be "attacked," and not every response you want will be forthcoming. This is the natue of a complex dialogue. A lot IS being discussed – and between persons and about subjects never discussed before between them. The insults have come fast and furious from Mr. Campbell of JARS and his silence on certain issues is disturbing to me.

How 'bout we TRY instead of bitching that the other side won't talk?

JARS would be better served if it had someone willing to engage its critics as ARI scholars appear willing to engage over at SOLOPassion. I'll leave it to readers of that site to see if what I am saying is true.

Whatever the quality of JARS, so long as so many Objectivist scholars and researchers, leaders in the field, refuse to publish there, it will not be representative of the serious scholarship in the field and will provide inadequate 'peer review' on the subject. This may or may not be justified, but calling any criticism an unfair attack is also a way of 'blanking out.' If someone like Tara Smith, with a major work coming out from Cambridge Univ. Press, no less, will not publish in JARS, for example... An attempt at conversation might help. And it might help if Mr. Campbell stops accusing people of possessing 'cult mentalities.'

James, please forgive me... but I was looking over various SOLO threads, and except for Diana Hsieh, who is an ARI supporter, I'm not sure I've seen any bona fide "ARI-affiliated scholars" participating on that forum. That is, unless there are people working with pseudonymns, I don't see anyone from the actual list of affiliated scholars of the Ayn Rand Institute. I do see people who are genuine supporters of both ARI and TOC participating, but not necessarily ARI-affiliated scholars.

Secondly, let me emphasize: Robert Campbell does not speak for JARS. Robert Campbell speaks for Robert Campbell. And Chris Sciabarra speaks for Chris Sciabarra. JARS is a nonpartisan academic periodical; we have published people who are more "orthodox" in their viewpoint, and those who are full-fledged revisionists. We've published conservatives and socialists too. Nobody "speaks" for JARS. And, quite frankly, none of the affiliated scholars of ARI or TOC should be "speaking" for either of those organizations. It would be my hope that each scholar makes decisions about participation in various forums and periodicals based entirely on his or her own independent judgment.

In any event, if I missed some of the threads at SOLO, just send me the links. SOLO is one big site!



By "blanking out," I was referring to the fact that: (1) ARI scholars will attacks JARS as pseudo-scholarship, garbage, material produced by "enemies" of Rand, etc; but (2) will not discuss a solid, represenative article in JARS (such as the one I mentioned).

That ARI scholars will not publish in JARS is not necessarily reflective of JARS' quality.

Concerning Tara Smith, I imagine that her work will be reviewed in JARS, probably favorably. (I believe Skoble reviewed Gotthelf's book favorably in JARS.) Will The Objective Standard say anything positive about a non-ARI book on Rand? For example, S. Hicks' book on pomo has no relevance to the TOC/ARI disupute, Branden or whatever, but I bet O.S. won't mention it.

Chris, when you were engaging people on the various discussion lists, you were unvaryingly rational and civil. You were a wonderful role model for those of us with shorter fuses.

And now that you are no longer engaging people in the 381st round of pointless, mud-slinging debate over who is more (or less) immoral, etc., you are getting more accomplished, drawing more attention than ever to your excellent work, and (not surprisingly) enjoying life more. You are, in this respect, an even better role model -- especially for those of us who are so easily lured into said pointless debates and away from the work that will be our self-defining legacies.

Having said that, I also briefly want to raise another cheer, this one for another of my heroes and role models, Nathaniel Branden, who is 76 today! Happy Birthday, Nathaniel!!

Roger Bissell (a mere 57 :-)

Does Mike Mazza count?

And wouldn't having this discussion with former TOC folks like Bill Perry and Michelle Cohen also be helpful?

... Not to mention the growing list of people willing to defend various parts of the "ARI postion" appearing there. This whole list is blazing a trail that opens an unprecedented chance for dialogue, one that could show others that the water is just fine, that it's time to come on in! I am sure that, if not you, then some like you, Chris, would never have had the issues Mr. Mazza had with Mr. Campbell, for example.

Just seems a pity.

I can't speak much about the scholarship of JARS since I've only read some of the online articles but I do like it's openended approach to contributors.

Thanks to those who have posted additional comments here.

Let me just make a few things clear: To my knowledge, the only scholar affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, who actually called for a "boycott" of JARS (and my work, I might add) was Andrew Bernstein. (Readers can see the original boycott notice here.) I'm not going to re-open that whole can of worms at this time, but I do not know of anybody else among ARI-affiliated scholars who has made any public statement that they will not publish in JARS. It is true that we have invited a number of ARI-affiliated scholars to write in JARS, usually in response to reviews of their publications that might appear in the journal. My interactions with a number of these scholars has been unfailingly polite, and not a single one has indicated that they are actually "boycotting" JARS. They simply declined to respond to any reviews (not unusual in scholarly circles). And that includes Tara Smith, whom I've met, and who was cordial in our introduction. She declined to respond to Lester Hunt's review of her book, Viable Values, which appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of JARS. She was already moving on to the subject of her next book, and we do intend to run a review of that book in a forthcoming issue of the journal. And I'm sure we'll invite her, again, to reply.

So we will see.

But, yes, James, I agree that it is a problem that a number of ARI-affiliated scholars have not published in JARS. It is not because they have been shunned.

As for my wondering about the participation of ARI-affiliated scholars at SOLO-Passion, I was thinking of the individuals noted on this list. Mike Mazza is not on that list, but that doesn't mean that I would shun a discussion with him. In fact, I did have an extended blog dialogue with him, which is referenced here. Admittedly, it is very difficult having a continued dialogue with somebody who views one's work as "arbitrary gibberish."

I know Bill Perry, and have corresponded with him, and have even spoken with him subsequent to his disassociation with TOC. And JARS has published Michelle Fram-Cohen (a fine article on Hugo's Ninety-Three, which appears in the Fall 2001 issue). Michelle's views have evolved over time, and I have had a personal and public dialogue with her. See here and here, for example.

As for "the growing list of people willing to defend various parts of the 'ARI position'," I am aware of some of these people, and have had some dialogue with them. Understand, however, that I've been having this dialogue with many such people for a decade-and-a-half. But the dialogue goes only so far when people dismiss you as a "pseudo-scholar," and question your honesty and intellectual integrity. I have learned that it is a waste of time to debate one's character and work with such people. When that happens, and dialogue is short-circuited, it is, indeed, a pity.

But my door is always open.


Having visited the SOLO and Noodlefood sites on the web as well as yours, I must say that your site is the most engaging, civil, and adult. By doing what's best FOR YOU, it's a lovely coincidence that your site and scholarship appeal to a wider audience than ever before. I find those other sites frequently tiresome and dogmatic and often emotionally childish.

By the way, is there ANY way a person can give someone a gift subscription to JARS? I wanted to do that about a month ago, but couldn't.

Mr. Valliant,

Absolutely, as Chris said, I don't speak for the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Nor, for that matter, do I speak for The Objectivist Center. I hold no leadership position in TOC, and rarely offer advice to those in leadership positions there; when I do, sometimes it is accepted, often it is not.

I had a cordial conversation with Bill Perry after he announced that he was leaving TOC. I have responded to his announcements on both SOLOPassion and RoR. Bill has not taken umbrage at anything I've said. By contrast, I don't see any value in a continuing conversation with Michelle Cohen. And I may be partly at fault for that...

I will confess to having a problem with people who condemn JARS without ever reading it (e.g., Mr. Mazza), and with those who have read something from it, but refuse to provide a detailed critique. Objectivism puts a high value on first-hand knowledge, after all. I would never condemn a publication by an ARI-affiliated scholar without reading it, and, if I've read it and I have objections, I will go to some trouble to explicate them.

What's more, I have a lot of responsibilities that are unrelated to Rand scholarship, let alone to discussions of Objectivism on message boards. (For instance, I am the editor of a psychology journal.) Adequate responses take time to prepare, and I find dealing with verbal abuse and unresponsive comments to be draining. Consequently I will not be sustaining my current level of activity on SOLOPassion, or on any other message board, for much longer. And, of course, I'll certainly respect anyone else who needs to take time for other priorities.

Robert Campbell

Congratulations on your ever-increasing productivity Chris!

I too am glad that you are no longer going to spend a great deal of time endlessly repeating yourself in debating the same old topics. While one shouldn't shy away from speaking up for the ideas or people one values, there of course comes a point where you've said all you have to say and/or the negativity of others rises to such a level that there is no rational purpose in continuing the discussion (and I say this as someone who in the past occasionally lost sight of that).

Keep doing it your way :-)


What I have a problem with, and I know Chris S. has commented on this more times than he could ever remember, is an attitude of *partisanship* that gets reflected in people's behaviors. Each individual case is different and should be judged on its merits. Tara Smith is an "ARI" affiliated scholar, and hasn't or won't publish in JARS, which is all fine and good. Ms. Smith doesn't need to publish in a particular forum to produce quality work. The fact that she is affiliated with ARI by itself shouldn't bear one way or the other on whether her work is good and therefore worth reading and studying. Same exact thing goes for other, non-ARI affiliated scholars. If the quality of the work is up to snuff, then there's no reason for the dedicated scholars in a field to be ignoring it.

Ms. Smith does happen to have published on numerous occasions in -Social Philosophy and Policy-, a journal run by individuals who are strong admirers of Rand but for whatever reasons are not affiliated with ARI. But in the end, so what? If she's publishing work of high quality, the merits of which stand up on their own, that's the important thing. From the standpoint of scholarship, of the study of *ideas*, the author or the venue are not relevant. If Roderick Long publishes an article that's worth looking into, especially if it's relevant to one's field of study, what does it matter that the article appeared in JARS and not somewhere else? You don't have to *like* Roderick Long the person or whatever crowd he consorts with, in order to study what he has to say in connection with the field or subject you're studying.

Which is why I would continue to say time and again that for Objectivist or Rand-inspired scholars (professional or otherwise) to do work or study in areas like rights theory, they need to acknowledge and take into account the contributions of people like Mack, Rasmussen and Den Uyl, whether or not they're in "good standing" with this organization or that.

And from the way I see things, scholars do quality work *as individuals*, not as affiliates of this or that group, and, in terms of scholarship, merit recognition on the basis of their work, not their group or "faction."

I have a thought: Probably just about any "faction" you could encounter in life is going to have its share of good guys and its share of a-holes. Partisanship is loyalty to those in your faction, rather than to good guys. Partisanship makes you one of the a-holes.

James Valliant wrote:
"Whatever the quality of JARS, so long as so many Objectivist scholars and researchers, leaders in the field, refuse to publish there, it will not be representative of the serious scholarship in the field and will provide inadequate 'peer review' on the subject."

I don't want to take your words the wrong way, but the way your wording comes off, it would appear that you don't recognize people like Mack and Rasmussen (who have published in JARS) as "leaders in the field" (which they are).

Chris and others,

I wrote a critique of Robert Campbell's JARS essay "Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology" on SOLOP here:


I was not impressed my Campbell's essay and (quite unusually for me) I was actually quite offended by his rough treatment of Rand. Chris, I don't think Campbell represents JARS very well by presenting this essay as a first look.

Chris, do you have editorial control over what gets published? Did you approve of Campbell's article? From what I remember, I quite enjoyed parts of "Russian Radical," especially the first part with the interesting historical background. Does "RR" more accurately represent the degree of scholarship in JARS, or Campbell's essay? Because if it's the latter, I am quite discouraged from buying a subscription.

I'm sure I'll read other articles from JARS at some point in the future, I just wanted to give you some feedback on that one essay, as I am a potential customer of yours.

Thanks for reading,

--Dan Edge

Totally OT, but if you want a hilarious depiction of a bunch of sectarians busily debating who's "moral' and who's not, and who needs to be shunned for associating with somebody who associates with somebody who's immoral, I strongly recommend Garrison Keillor's account of the Plymouth Brethren in Lake Wobegon Days. Peter Schwartz would fit in well there.


Might I suggest my piece in the forthcoming issue. ;-)

I only noticed this thread which includes references to me (by Chris Sciabarra, Valliant and Dr. Campbell) so here are my comments:

I am certainly not an “ARI-scholar.” I only recently started to read and study the scholarship produced by scholars affiliated with ARI. At this point in my life, I prefer not to engage in a dialogue with people from TOC or JARS because it will take up too much of my time and will divert my attention from what I want to study. As I indicated to Sciabarra in a private exchange, I withdrew the draft I submitted a year ago for publication in JARS because I was concerned that the editorial process will push me in a direction I did not want to go. I devoted five years of my life to the stance of TOC and JARS. It is time for me to move on.

I think it is great that people who support TOC/JARS and ARI are communicating on SOLOPassion, and hope that more people will decide to explore ARI. But I don’t believe that a dialogue can resolve the fundamental differences between the perspective of ARI and that of TOC and JARS.

I wonder if anyone at TOC or ARI understands or cares how this partisan bickering appears to newcomers to Rand and who are genuinely interested in her ideas.

Surely, her ideas are the main point, aren't they? Not who slept with whom and for what reason or who got "the keys to the Rand Kingdom?" Wasn't her point to transform the individual into a more reasonable person motivated by enlightened self-interest?

I'm an outsider to this fold so perhaps my comments count for nil, but it all strikes me a little bit ridiculous, and more than a little depressing.

A general reply to Michelle's comments: While I think it's clear that the JARS mission and the ARI mission are different, I think that if you let each side put forward its own best case as to what their own mission is, I think there is value to aspects of both. Over time I have come to recognize the admirable job that the ARI does in promoting study of Objectivism to the aim of well-integrated understanding of it. In terms of *understanding Objectivism thoroughly*, the ARI study approach has gained an stronghold, an upper hand as an institution if you will. From such a vantage-point, so much dialoguing with outsiders (including and perhaps especially in academia) is so much engaging in misguided and irrelevant debate over non-issues that are made out to be issues due to lack of grasp of proper context. So much of academia is beyond help in that regard, doing too much rationalistic mid-streaming with all its accompanying jargon. So some degree of dubiousness about the JARS approach is warranted. But within certain appropriate limits, the JARS approach serves a purpose, particularly in the sense that it fosters greater familiarity with what we're up against as far as barriers to proper understanding go. Seeing as understanding Objectivism is also understanding why it's true, the dialogue approach serves a twofold purpose: by weeding out what's untrue about the objections to Objectivism, as well as fortifying/clarifying a tenet of Objectivism against those objections.

Say that certain Rand-inspired thinkers claim, with plenty of reasonable justification offered, that despite Rand's opposition to the concept of "duty" in ethics, that aspects of her moral theory or especially her rights theory are properly understood as deontological if they are going to work. That's an issue I've been interested in for a good 10+ years now, since early in my study of Objectivism. And it's one where my thoughts have evolved somewhat over time as I think my understanding of Objectivism has deepened. Now some might think that this is an issue not needing taking seriously if one really properly understands Objectivism and its view of "duty." But there are some real issues that, as they stand, need some working-out and that's only going to happen via a survey of and reponse to some relevant literature. Tara Smith treats of the subject of deontological rights theories in her first book, but doesn't directly address points that arise as far as they're presented by Rand-inspired thinkers, namely Mack and the Dougs. So there are things to be explored: if these thinkers are advocating deontological notions in pretty convincing ways above Rand's objections, then we can ask such questions as "What is deontology, exactly?" We already know that deontology is a popular moral approach in academia, and I think there are one of two basic responses to the challenge here: to be dismissive, or to tackle their deontological ideas head-on. From what I can tell, JARS would play host to a back-and-forth about whether or how deontology has any place in Objectivism, but the ARI would consider the matter settled clearly enough (i.e., no deontology) to anyone who understands Objectivism well enough. But the whole idea is to *show* this.

My present thoughts are that there isn't room for a genuine deontology in Objectivism properly understood. That would *suggest* a reversal of the position that I had been advocating for years, and would also suggest that "non-ARI, JARS scholars" Mack and the Dougs are amongst those who don't adequately understand Objectivism (and, so a "spin" might go, which is why you find them associated with JARS and not ARI). That is, until you throw in the fact that I still have great regard for the understanding of rights theory that their writings have helped promote.

So what I'm saying is that a critique of their position could be done from within the framework of a solid understanding of Objectivism, and at the same time, that a place like JARS can be a useful forum to do such a critique, which I have thoughts of doing. And in doing so, I'd be doing something of a dialogue with "the academy" (not just deeply Rand-inspired thinkers) on the idea of deontology in morality.

(Anyhoo, why do I feel as if I'm among the select few who respect both -Russian Radical-, its "Polish" notwithstanding, and the -Understanding Objectivism- course? :-)

First, thanks Peri and Matthew H for your kind words about Notablog and me too! And you're right: This is all about what is best for me. If you'd like to give a gift subscription, Peri, I can arrange for it. (The site only allows for printing out a subscription form and mailing it in. See here, or let's chat offline.)

On the issue of who speaks for JARS: Let me reiterate what Robert Campbell says here on my blog. He does not "speak" for JARS. JARS is a nonpartisan publication. It also does not prohibit any of its editors or associate editors or advisors from speaking out on any topic of their choice or taking any stance they wish, anywhere. Among our editors and board members are people who have profoundly different views on many, many subjects, including the nature of Rand scholarship.

Chris Cathcart is right that I've commented on the partisanship in Rand circles for years and years. See here, for example. It is simply not true, however, that a whole group of Rand scholars have chosen to boycott JARS because of the presence on our editorial or advisory board of this person or that person. Fundamentally, I agree with Chris: "scholars do quality work *as individuals*, not as affiliates of this or that group, and, in terms of scholarship, merit recognition on the basis of their work, not their group or 'faction'." I also agree with his comments on the nature of partisanship. See here, for example.

But the lack of participation by some scholars in our pages does not mean that JARS lacks credibility. We have actually increased both our visibility and credibility in the larger academic community. For some, of course, this very fact might be proof of the corrupt nature of the journal. But as we now enter our eighth year of publication, we are gaining credibility precisely because we are open to critical engagement among scholars from many disciplines and perspectives. One sign of that gaining credibility is that we continue to add indexing and abstracting services to our roster of coverage. See here, for example.

Now, as for Dan Edge's comments on Robert Campbell's piece: First, Dan, thanks for posting to Notablog. I've enjoyed some correspondence with you in the past, and I welcome your comments here.

Second, Robert's article, which comes from the very first issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, is not the only JARS article online. Let me provide links to other essays that are currently online at various places on the web. The listings below are arranged alphabetically by author's last name. Within each author category, the articles are listed chronologically (from the earliest to the most recent):

Bissell, Roger E.:
Music and Perceptual Cognition
Sailing the Turbulent Seas of the Objectivist Aesthetics
Critical Misinterpretations and Missed Opportunities: Errors and Omissions by Kamhi and Torres
Art as Microcosm
Langer and Camus: Unexpected Post-Kantian Affinities with Randian Aesthetics

Campbell, Robert L.:
Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology
A Veteran Reconnoiters Ayn Rand's Philosophy
Implied Epistemology, Epistemology of the Implicit
Can Academics Learn from a Mere Clinical Psychologist?
Goals, Values, and the Implicit: Explorations in Psychological Ontology

Enright, John:
Art: What a Concept

Horwitz, Steven:
Rand, Rush, and the De-Totalizing of Progressive Rock

Kamhi, Michelle Marder:
What "Rand's Aesthetics" Is and Why It Matters

Kamhi, Michelle Marder and Louis Torres:
Critical Neglect of Ayn Rand's Theory of Art

Reed, Adam:
Object-Oriented Programming and Objectivist Epistemology: Parallels and Implications

Saint-Andre, Peter:
Saying Yes to Rand and Rock

Sciabarra, Chris Matthew:
The Rand Transcript
Dialectical Libertarianism: All Benefits, No Hazards
Rand, Rush, and Rock
Rand, Rock, and Radicalism
The Illustrated Rand
The Rand Transcript, Revisited

Sciabarra, Chris Matthew and Larry Sechrest:
Introduction: Ayn Rand Among the Austrians

Torres, Louis:
Scholarly Engagement: When It is Pleasurable and When It is Not

I think that is a generous helping of previously published JARS essays... so... enjoy! Or not.

Now, a word about our double-blind review process: Each essay that is submitted must first pass an editorial board review to make sure it is "in the ballpark," that is, the kind of piece JARS might be interested in publishing. The essay is then sent to any number of potential peer readers (and we have an ever-growing list of qualified scholars who act as readers). Each of the readers has a disciplinary specialty, and provides a comprehensive report on the submitted essay. Authors are invited to make revisions based on these suggestions. Typically, articles go through three or four revisions before being accepted. In many instances, articles are rejected outright.

That's all for now.


That's for the links and the welcome. I'll check out some of the essays and hopefully write some reviews. I particularly like the title: "Saying Yes to Rand and Rock." I think I'll check that one out first :)

--Dan Edge


That's a wonderful list of essays on JARS. I would like to add one by Roger Bissell called "Art as Microcosm: The Real Meaning of the Objectivist Concept of Art":
OL version here
PDF version here

I posted this list in the Sciabarra Corner on Objectivist Living here.

If people add to it, I will bu sure to drop you a line.

Thanks for putting this together.


These are some of the things that the associate editor of JARS has recently written about me at SOLOPassion:

“I quit debating Mr. Valliant and his claque back in November, because I'd crunched both of my wrists in an accident and needed all of my resources to recover. But even if I hadn't been faced with an imperative to change my priorities, I had the sense that the debate was well past the point of bringing further returns.”

“Mr. Valliant will never succeed in convincing the wider world that Ayn Rand was a moral paragon before whom they should get on their knees. To the extent that non-Randians accept Mr. Valliant’s equation of respect for Ayn Rand’s ideas with worship of her person, they are unlikely to respond with either. Nor will non-Randians be much impressed by Mr. Valliant’s efforts to tie every last sin, real or alleged, of Rand and her movement onto the backs of ‘the Brandens.’ As some observers have already pointed out, what Mr. Valliant has actually produced is the latest test of loyalty for orthodox Objectivists.”

“I haven't read Ayn Rand Answers, so I can't comment on Dr. Mayhew's editing thereof. I have read Mr. Valliant's book, however, and, in my opinion, it has a lot to do with the ARI true believer mentality. PARC shares with official ARI publications the presumption that Ayn Rand never did anything wrong and had no character traits that might merit criticism.”

Chris, your only response to my concern about this is to say that it is you, not Campbell, whom I will be dealing with if I publish in JARS.

Whatever JARS' position is, do you ~ yourself ~ agree with or endorse his assertions?

Do you think that this is "civil discourse"?

Robert Campbell has recently posted this over at SOLOPassion:

"Let me add that Mr. Valliant's complaints about JARS are extremely unlikely to be of recent origin, because the data about the journal have changed so little... Complaints about articles critical of Rand, from those I would consider 'true believers,' began within the year after JARS first appeared... I suspect that Mr. Valliant's new-found complaints have a lot to do with recent shifts in political alignments here at SOLOPassion and very little to do with either my opinions (critical of Rand on some issues, openly opposed to ARI, critical of many of the claims that Mr. Valliant makes in his book)--or Dr. Sciabarra's views--or editorial policies at JARS."

You know the actual truth behind THIS one, too, Chris, and will you allow him to psychologize like that?


I added the following essay by Robert Campbell to my "Links to JARS essays online" on OL:

Can Academics Learn from a Mere Clinical Psychologist? (review of The Art of Living Consciously: The Power of Awareness to Transform Everyday Life by Nathaniel Branden)


Okay, gents, let's go back to our respective corners, and see if we can sort some of this out.

First, let me reiterate a few statements about James Valliant and his book: As readers of Notablog are well aware, I published my review of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics (PARC) way back in July 2005. When James's book first came out, I decided that it was important enough to read and to devote 18,000+ words to it, while others were refusing to read it or were condemning it based on its dust jacket. Oh how I appreciate the frustration any author must feel with those kinds of "reviews"! I got the same treatment in 1995 from those who had a similar reaction to Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.

In the wake of my review of PARC, I opened up Notablog to a discussion in which James himself participated. It was among the most popular discussions in the history of Notablog, generating nearly 60 posts to that thread. I still stand by my review of James's book. And our Notablog discussion made clear our many serious disagreements over a number of issues. But James has continued to post on occasion to Notablog. His participation here has been exemplary. I do not believe that he is some kind of wild-eyed cultic whack-job nut-case "true believer." I think he is seriously concerned about the portrayal of Ayn Rand in the Branden books, and has raised significant questions about the interpretations therein. I don't think PARC was concerned as much with convincing the wider world of Rand's 'perfection'; it was, instead, a prosecutorial "case against the Brandens," much more concerned with attacking the Brandens' accounts than it was in building up sufficiently any alternative narrative.

Due to the controversy of its subject, PARC has generated quite a few discussions on various forums, wherein some posters on both sides of the divide have expressed a level of rage that I have always found to be counterproductive. In fact, there was a point in my own reading of these discussions that I had wished the whole dialogue had ended completely; for example, after over a thousand posts on the subject this past autumn, that discussion, in my eyes, had reached the point of no return, full of rage and rancor, with people talking over each other's heads. I was frustrated and disgusted with much of the uncivil tone that seemed to predominate.

Nevertheless, I'm now satisfied that the discussion has continued; clearly, it has had, and will continue to have, many long-term consequences, some intended, some not, some good, some bad. That's in the nature of any text worth reading: it leaves a "trace," as the "hermeneutics" school tells us, one that has myriad implications that can only be appreciated as a discussion runs its course. And this particular discussion has a long way to go.

The above comments should make it very clear that I differ on some issues with my friend and colleague Robert Campbell both in his assessment of PARC and of its author. Sometimes, however, I think it is the case that certain people just don't click [James and Robert], and I think this is one of those times. And I think a certain incivility has leaked into this conversation that is best checked at the door (Robert suggesting James is a "true believer" and James suggesting that Robert be "fired" from his non-paying associate editing of JARS are just two examples of what might have pissed off the other guy... )

Now, as for your complaints about JARS, James: I repeat... No single advisor or editor speaks for JARS. But every single one of them has the right to present his or her own individual opinions in any forum they so choose. That most definitely includes me.

I can only promise you that anything you submit to JARS will be dealt with respectfully, and that any reply you choose to publish in JARS will have your final approval, as is our policy with every single author who has ever published in our pages. I would personally welcome your reply to any review that JARS publishes of PARC.

And as I have said to you personally, JARS reaches an audience far beyond the "in-house" discussants in the Randian movement who are currently dominating the dialogue on various "in-house" forums. Any exchange between you and the JARS reviewer will be abstracted and indexed by over a dozen of the most credible academic indices in the humanities and social sciences, thus potentially reaching thousands of scholars worldwide. It can only benefit your book and its reception to have that kind of dialogue. And it benefits JARS as well to feature that kind of engagement, in the spirit of its nonpartisan credo.

I leave the decision to you. Perhaps you can simply wait to actually see the review before making that decision. I hope to have final page proofs on that review before too long. In fact, as I've indicated to you, we usually run a review of a book and run a reply-rejoinder exchange in a later issue of the journal. In this instance, because of the highly controversial nature of the subject, I hope to run a review, your reply, and the reviewer's rejoinder all in the same issue, thus providing readers with an opportunity to see the point-counterpoint in one place. I can't think of a fairer way to feature discussion of your book.


How nice! Getting in some new B.S. digs at me when I pose a reasonable question? (And I've got to have an "alternative narrative" -- whatever the flaws the Brandens'? So, we're stuck with a moon made of green cheese until the astronauts get back? Sorry, don't buy it.)

Chris, I asked of Campbell's statements, "Do you think that this is 'civil discourse'?"

To which you responded, I think, "No."

However, this incivility was aimed not just at me, but at an entire category of Rand writers. A category you have recently conceded you have a problem attracting as authors – and that this is a real problem for JARS.

So long as 1/3 of JARS' editorial staff is calling us all names, don't expect these writers to contribute. Expect your problem to grow.

Hardly surprising, right?

Just don't pretend that JARS is the victim.

James, what "B.S. digs"?? My point was that your book was not a narrative about Rand's perfection, but about what you believe are the Branden books' imperfections. This was a "case against the Brandens" (properly subtitled), not a "case for Rand's perfection." You were not obligated to present such a case in any event. Where is the B.S.??

Yes, I think the debate has been uncivil at times.

But, I'm sorry, sir, the incivility that some JARS editors show "an entire category of Rand writers" is not a one way street. This journal began in 1999, and from Square One, we were bullied with threats of litigation. That has had a way of affecting the tone of the discussion from the very beginning.

In any event, I don't recognize "an entire category of Rand writers," as I argue above. The reactions from various "orthodox" scholars has been varied; I think of each scholar as an individual.

I will share the review with you, when it is complete, and invite you to respond. You can make an informed decision.



I would like to point out that Prof. Campbell used information which he obtained in his capacity as associate editor, which I did not intend to be public, in order to smear me in a post which was 75% fabricated, as even he admitted. I had no contact or public exchange with Prof. Campbell for over a year prior to that post, which was totally unprovoked and uncalled for. If a contributor gets slammed in public for withdrawing a draft which did not go through the editorial process, with the false claim that it was "ready for publication," one has to wonder about Prof. Campbell's tactics. Why portray someone who already published in JARS in such a negative light?

The SoloPassion references:

Robert Campbell's recollections of your reasons for withdrawing your article from JARS were incorrect. In fact, to my knowledge, he only knew you withdrew your piece, but I don't recall discussing the private dialogue that you and I had about it. Robert is not even the designated co-editor on the Nietzsche-Rand project. My co-editor for that project is Lester Hunt.

In any event, I'm happy to see that Robert set the record straight.

I have been nothing but kind and considerate toward you, Michelle. And in this very thread, I praise your contribution to JARS.

In the end, those who don't wish to read or publish in JARS: Don't.

Those who do wish to read or publish in JARS: Do.

Fortunately, nobody is obligated to do either. I am thoroughly satisfied with our ever-increasing submission rate, subscription rate, and our ever-increasing visibility in the scholarly community.

If JARS wants to make all of its (even merely potential) skeptics and critics into life-long enemies – then Campbell's comments are the way to go.

According to a recent post at SOLOPassion, Campbell believes that my mind changed about JARS some weeks ago. Please inform him that it changed a week ago today, as you know, and as much of the "why" as you can.

I think you've been fairly explicit about "why," but I will certainly inform him that your mind changed a week ago today.

To be precise, my mind started to change about nine days ago.

I have no quarrel with you, Sciabarra, as you know.

Glad to hear it!

Thanks for all the input, folks.

Now, I need to get back to actually doing JARS work!