“To describe her as a minor figure in the history of philosophical thinking about knowledge and reality would be a wild overstatement,” says Brian Leiter, director of the Center for Law, Philosophy and Human Values at the University of Chicago. “She’s irrelevant.”Notice that he doesn't argue that she is wrong, only that she is "simple-minded". If you follow this blog, recall that I just wrote a post, The Modern Intellectual's Virtue of Complexity, in which I analyzed the reasons why modern academics in the social sciences have such an affinity for "complexity". Could you imagine someone accusing Newton of being "simple-minded" because he reduced the laws of mechanics to F=M*A, or Maxwell for having reduced the essential laws of electromagnetism to four principles? Could you imagine someone criticizing Einstein for the simplicity of E=mc^2?
...Professor Leiter says Ms. Rand’s views on moral philosophy and objective reality are “simple-minded in the extreme.”
“She doesn’t understand the historical positions of thinkers on these issues, such as Hume and Kant,” he says. “Even the minority of philosophers with some sympathy for her celebration of the virtues of selfishness usually find her general philosophical system embarrassing.” [emphasis mine]
As I argued in the post, it would be a mistake to think that these academics mean "simple-minded" in the sense of ignoring important factors. They regard complexity as a virtue in and of itself. Actually, as I further argued, in the proper context, being regarded as simple minded should be taken as a compliment of the highest order.
The other quotes, hardly worth mentioning because they are so absurd, are related to Allison's argument that government intervention is the cause of the economic crisis:
“It takes a great leap of ideological blindness to look at the past few years and think that the main problem was too much government involvement,” said Robert B. Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was a labor secretary in the Clinton administration.These quotes are so factually and logically wrong, they represent complete and total intellectual negligence and would be grounds for termination if there was even a shred of objectivity left in the social sciences.
Mark A. Thoma, an economist at the University of Oregon, says the financial crisis would have been worse if the government hadn’t rapidly intervened.
“I completely disagree with the idea that letting the markets heal themselves is the best idea,” he says. “We tried that in the ’30s, and it didn’t work out so well.”
How ironic, that a man such as Robert Reich, whose wholly debunked Keynesian policies of credit expansion and government intervention in the economy are the clear cause of the economic crisis, would accuse Allison of "ideological blindness." As a rebuttal to Reich, see my post, Rational Animal Spirits, to hear Allison's full lecture in which he elucidates the true causes of the crisis.
The most egregiously absurd claim has to be Thoma's statement that we let the "markets heal themselves" in the 1930's as if this were a period of laissez-faire! Someone should let Thoma know that the 1930's were known as America's Red Decade for a reason, including widespread "infatuation with communism" and the fact that FDR's New Deal represented the largest expansion of federal government power in our nation's history. This fact was directly responsible for the exacerbation of the Great Depression throughout the 1930's.
If these arguments, namely that Rand was "simple-minded" and that the 1930's proves we need government intervention in the economy, are the best arguments the left has to offer, then I actually disagree with Allison's statement in the article:
“In some ways, Ayn Rand filled in the ideas of Aristotle. It’s a whopping competitive advantage,” he says. “I personally believe objectivism will be the dominant philosophy in this country in 25 years.”
It should be much sooner.