All of our General Session options are available with one convenient
All General Sessions, except for the Academic Panel are available on livestream.
Those signing up to attend General Sessions in person will get the livestream
option with no additional cost.
Livestreaming is done in real-time, and recordings will be accessible until
August 15, 2013. To register, go to http://www.objectivistconferences.com/ocon2013/register.html. If you wish to see the events in real-time, please register early. There will be no refunds after May 31, 2013 (an exception
to the Cancellation/Refund Policy).
The Moral and the Practical
Saturday, July 6 • 11 AM–12:30 PM
A crucial error in ethics is to pit the moral against the practical.
What are some of the sources of this error? What are some of its
existential manifestations? What are some of its effects on thinking,
including subtle ones? What, properly, is the relation of the moral to
the practical? What is the place of this issue in ethics and in life?
These are some of the topics this lecture will explore.
What’s the future look like for Objectivism in academia? During this free
General Session, three members of ARI’s Objectivist Academic Center—Ben
Bayer, Gena Gorlin, and Daniel Schwartz—will join Debi Ghate, ARI VP of
Education and Research, for a discussion about present opportunities and
future prospects. We expect to share prerecorded statements from two other
OAC alumni about very positive recent news concerning their academic
Objectivism Is Radical (and Applying It Can Be Hard)
Sunday, July 7 • 11 AM–12:30 PM
Chicago Reach for the Stars
Chicago was Ayn Rand’s first home in the United States. After her initial
stay in 1926, she returned to the city several times. In this general
session talk, Shoshana Milgram discusses Ayn Rand’s visit with her
American family, her systematic viewing of and evaluating of films and film
stars, and the fruit of these experiences in her later life and brilliant
work. Stephen Siek explores Chicago’s prominent architecture,
skyscrapers and Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in particular. He also
prepares us for a Chicago-area tour of Frank Lloyd Wright homes that will
take place on Friday, July 12. Jonathan Hoenig introduces us to one of
the most important industries in our host town, commodities trading. He
covers the history and present day of Chicago futures markets and shows why
an ambitious trader is, in Ayn Rand’s words, “a man of justice.” A general
Q&A session follows.
The Stylized Soul in Romantic Literature
Monday, July 8 • 11 AM–12:30 PM
“[E]very human soul has a style of its own,” says Ellsworth Toohey in
The Fountainhead. “You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every
act, every wish of that person.” Toohey is only half right: while a soul
can have its own style, this is not common but a rare achievement. It
presupposes a process of stylization.
A “stylized” object is one whose characteristics concretize
philosophical values and optional, individualizing, internally
congruous values. Focusing on Ayn Rand’s novels, Mr. Boeckmann shows
how a Romantic writer expresses her unique, individual soul by stylizing
every aspect of her stories; and, secondarily, how she conveys the
individuality of her respective characters by similar means.
To describe the same topic more concretely, this lecture answers the
question, How do Howard Roark and John Galt come to be uniquely “Ayn
Rand heroes” and, at the same time, uniquely themselves?
Heroes and Hero Worship
This lecture analyzes the nature of heroism and its vital role in human
life. It defines “hero” and ”heroism,” not in accordance with
conventional usage or dictionary definitions, but by application of
rational philosophic principles—thereby identifying the essential
characteristics of these concepts. Then, with no attempt at an
exhaustive analysis, this lecture asks and partially answers the
question: By rational standards, who are among the greatest heroes of
mankind’s history? Further, the talk explains the philosophic
fundamentals that make heroism both possible and necessary. Polemically,
it identifies the philosophic foundations of contemporary
anti-heroism—the tenets of modern philosophy that give rise to the
modernist war on heroes, both in real life and in art. Finally, the talk
shows how, and why, an attitude of unabashed hero worship—far from being
a negative—provides inspiration vital to an individual’s
Man’s Life as the Standard of Value in the Ethics of Ayn Rand and Aristotle
Wednesday, July 10 • 11 AM–12:30 PM
“Man’s life,” wrote Ayn Rand, “is the standard of morality.” It is Aristotle
more than any other philosopher who stressed our need to look to identify and
look to a standard in selecting our goals. And Aristotle was the first to
identify the proper standard as the distinctly human form of life—a life of
developing and exercising our rational faculties to their fullest. Despite
agreeing on these fundamental points, Rand and Aristotle have importantly
different views of what the human form of life is. In particular, they differ
about how reason relates to the faculties and on the needs that human beings
share with other living things. This talk explores this difference and its
causes and consequences. Topics to be addressed include: why Aristotle endorsed
slavery and Rand, freedom; why Aristotle demeaned material production and Rand
lauded it; and what it means to establish a standard of value objectively.
State of the Culture
Panel discussion featuring Harry Binswanger and Yaron Brook
Wednesday, July 10 • 5:10 PM–6:40 PM
Yaron Brook, executive director of ARI, and Harry Binswanger, ARI board
member, will respond to questions about the state of our culture and
offer their views on what the future may hold.
The Politics of Pretend—and Its Impact on the Legal System
Thursday, July 11 • 11 AM–12:30 PM
This lecture explains the way in which contemporary political culture
undermines the pillars of an objective legal system. It demonstrates how, in
addition to misguided premises and ideals, certain prevalent thinking habits
are steadily eroding individual freedom.
After clarifying the fundamental requirements of an objective legal system, Dr.
Smith canvases examples of an increasingly dishonest political culture that
obscures, distorts and evades these basic standards. She then analyzes the
premises that are responsible for these evasions and their perilous
consequences for the rule of law. Finally, the lecture considers the best means
of battling those methods and assumptions that distort our legal culture and
gnaw away at individual rights.
By clarifying our grasp of the essentials of objective law and the stakes of
chronically misguided political debates, we can gain a better understanding of
how to engage in these debates most effectively.