On Peikoff’s condemnation of McCaskey

The good, therefore, is a species of the true; it is a form of recognizing reality. The evil is a species of the false; it is a form of contradicting reality.

The general principle here is: truth implies as its cause a virtuous mental process; falsehood, beyond a certain point, implies a process of vice.

— Leonard Peikoff in his essay Fact and Value

From the available evidence on the issue, it seems to me that Dr. Peikoff’s moral condemnation of Dr. McCaskey (which surprised many) is based on the above. McCaskey, given his credentials, is clearly in possession of the relevant historical facts. If he is wrong – and Peikoff believes he is – it is not surprising that Peikoff regards the falsehood of McCaskey’s ideas as implying a process of vice.

I am way out of my depth in the issue at stake here – a theory of induction and the history of science – and cannot decide who is right and who is wrong.

That aside, the crucial question that this issue raises is: How should the ARI handle disagreement between its members on philosophical issues that do not come under the scope of Objectivism? It would seem that such disagreements should be tolerated given that the mission of the ARI is to promote Objectivism. But, given the nature of objectivism – the fact that objectivism demands (and rightly so) moral judgement of ideas – it is not realistic to expect people to work with those whom they morally condemn. Over time, as Objectivist intellectuals work on issues that Rand did not address, such disagreements are bound to increase. In the long term, this means that there can be no single organization that lays claim to Rand’s ideas. This is not something to regret.

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