Please read our About page, including on Participation. We hope you will join us!
I. Interest“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
Our society is interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism—the philosophy of reason.Books by Ayn Rand include:
Essentially, Objectivism holds:
- Atlas Shrugged
- The Fountainhead
- We the Living
- Philosophy: Who Needs It
- Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
- The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
- Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
- Reality: “Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.”
- Reason: “Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.”
- Rational Morality: “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. … The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”
- Politics: “The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another … as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit … and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights …”
II. Society“The two great values to be gained from social existence are: knowledge and trade.”
As detailed under Participation, our society welcomes the membership of people who are constructively interested in Objectivism. Non-Objectivists are welcome. Members are welcome to bring friends, family, and children as guests to appropriate events.What
We are an Objectivist society for our members and their families.When
Now, thanks to Ayn Rand’s works.Where
Here, where we live.Why
Social enjoyment in an Objectivist-friendly context and promoting Objectivism.How
- Social Events
- Our social events are welcoming and friendly. Many are lighthearted. Of course, we enjoy serious discussions.
- Welcoming members’ friends and families helps our society be relevant to our lives and promotes Objectivism.
- Some events may be enjoyable for families with children.
- Preferably, participants are able to mingle as may be mutually enjoyable.
- Frequent events help build friendships.
- Discussion Forum
Our society welcomes rational inquiry and discussion on all topics.
- Educational Resource
Our society may offer speakers, presentations, structured study, or a library.
- Other Activities
Our society may offer activities of interest to some of our members.
- Objective Management
Our society’s Constitution, including on Participation and Judging, is an instrument of objective management. This, not anarchy or authoritarianism (by analogy), is required for a large, sustainable, and friendly society.
III. ConstitutionA. Structure“A group, as such, has no rights. A man can neither acquire new rights by joining a group nor lose the rights which he does possess. The principle of individual rights is the only moral base of all groups or associations.”
The Organizer may undertake responsibility for our management, and, therefore, be the owner of our society, in this context meaning as a business entity and its property, including its names, trademarks, copyrights, urls, and contact lists. In this case, Assistant Organizers and project leaders are selected by and report to the Organizer.
Alternatively, our society may have a corporate structure with bylaws for ownership and selecting the managers.B. Principles“Just as a proper society is ruled by laws, not by men, so a proper association is united by ideas, not by men, and its members are loyal to the ideas, not to the group. … When men are united by ideas, i.e., by explicit principles, there is no room for favors, whims, or arbitrary power: the principles serve as an objective criterion for determining actions and for judging men, whether leaders or members.”
Our society is united by a constructive interest in Objectivism. “Objectivist” describes our association based on its uniting interest.
Our purposes are social enjoyment in an Objectivist-friendly context and promoting Objectivism.For our management purposes
, “Objectivism” is used as the name
Ayn Rand chose for her philosophy, i.e., the philosophical ideas advocated in the body of her works and other works she endorsed. Used as a proper name—not a concept—it excludes any claimed additions, deletions, or modifications. With integrity, Objectivism includes works by the Brandens that Ayn Rand endorsed before her break with them in 1968, subject to her disclaimer of any later association. It does not include anything authored after her death in 1982. “Since she did not live to see it … nor can [Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
] be properly described as ‘official Objectivist doctrine.’” Peikoff, OPAR
, 1991, Preface. Whether Objectivism is true, good, or a logically integrated system are separate questions from its naming
by Ayn Rand’s authorship or endorsement
. For other purposes, members are not required to agree with this usage.
The managers agree to undertake limited
responsibilities in speaking and acting in the name
of our society:1. Management
- To maintain the limited purposes of our society.
- To maintain the minimum qualifications and agreement for Participation.
- To direct the activities and finances for our society.
- To make any bylaws necessary and proper to executing the management responsibilities.
- To judge matters arising under our society’s Constitution, including on Participation, as may be necessary and proper, according to our principles for Judging.
C. Managers“If a candidate were to be judged by and held responsible for the views of every voter who joined his side, no man of integrity would ever enter a political campaign … And more: on such a premise, no writer, speaker, teacher or philosopher, no man propagating ideas, could ever enter public life.”
- On Promoting
- “Promoting” by or to our society includes organizing, sponsoring, supporting, affiliating, associating, advocating, advertising, distributing, offering, or selling in a manner that would materially associate our society with sanction of the subject matter. “Manner” includes factors such as officially or personally; approvingly or critically; essentially or incidentally; prominently or marginally; repeatedly or rarely; and with or without appropriate disclaimer.
- Respecting the uniting interest of our society and the various individual concerns of our members regarding the extent of their personal associations and sanctions beyond a constructive interest in Objectivism, to not allow promoting by or to our society of:
- Attacks against Ayn Rand, her works, or Objectivism.
- Ideas in conflict with Objectivism.
- A manager’s personal opinion, judgment, act, or work, unless it is with a prominent statement of our society’s general Disclaimer (below). “Personal” means not necessary and proper under our Constitution, including on Participation and Judging. Our society should be characterized by our interest, not as a platform for any manager.
- Activism regarding a controversial issue among some of our members as we learn, but rather to address such a subject directly, expertly, and thoroughly. See The Letters of Ayn Rand. Controversial issues include treatment of animals, abortion, the Brandens, Kelley, and Libertarianism. For example, rather than sponsor dove hunting, a lecture by an Objectivist scholar on the treatment of animals.
- Anything vulgar or sexually explicit.
- Any other organization, except ad hoc.
- In judging on behalf of our society, to apply the following artificial presumptions as a margin against exceeding these limits:
The standard to overcome any of these presumptions is clear and convincing evidence and analysis.
- An idea is presumed to be in conflict with Objectivism.
- A manager’s opinion, judgment, act, or work is presumed to be personal.
- An issue is presumed to be controversial.
- A manner of promoting is presumed to materially associate our society with sanction of the subject matter.
- On Restricting Participation
Recognizing that the process of identifying, judging, accepting, and upholding a new philosophy of life is a long, complicated process, to not:
- Require a member to agree with any of Objectivism, except on one’s honor with the “basic minimum” Ayn Rand identified “as a precondition of any discussion, co-operation or movement toward an intellectual Renaissance.”
- Prohibit or intimidate anyone from discussing, approvingly or critically, any subject matter, even if the subject matter is not to be promoted by or to our society.
- On Finances
Recognizing the organizational structure of our society, to not:
- Financially obligate anyone without his agreement.
- Provide alcohol, which might create liability.
- On Bylaws
To make no bylaw that is:
- Inconsistent with this Constitution, including on Participation and Judging.
- Non-objective, e.g., vague or retroactive.
A manager (e.g., Organizer, Director, Officer) should
- A member in good standing.
- Active by participating in at least six events in a year.
- Knowledgeable about Objectivism.
- Committed to the essential holdings of Objectivism.
- Supportive of our management Principles, procedures, confidentiality, and decisions.
- Non-supportive of any organization characterized by ideas in conflict with Objectivism.
- Independent, accepting no philosophical authority—not even Ayn Rand.
- Of sound judgment, always giving reasons. “To condemn without giving reasons is an act of irresponsibility, a kind of moral ‘hit-and-run’ driving.” —Ayn Rand
IV. ParticipationA. Qualifications“The process of identifying, judging, accepting and upholding a new philosophy of life is a long, complicated process, which requires thought, proof, full understanding and conviction. But there are two principles on which all men of intellectual integrity and good will can agree, as a ‘basic minimum,’ as a precondition of any discussion, co-operation or movement toward an intellectual Renaissance. … These two principles are: a. that emotions are not tools of cognition; b. that no man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others.”
—Ayn Rand1. Membership
Our society welcomes the membership of anyone who is constructively interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which means:
- Having read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.
- Showing interest in constructively discussing Objectivism.
- Not being a spiritual or philosophical leader in conflict with Objectivism.
- On one’s honor, agreeing that emotions are not tools of cognition and that no man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others.
For the definition of “Objectivism” used for our management purposes, see Principles (above).2. Guests
Our society welcomes a member to bring friends, family, and children as guests to appropriate events.3. General Limitations
Our society does not welcome anyone who:
B. Agreement“In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions and interests dictate.”
- Attacks Ayn Rand, her works, or Objectivism.
- Attacks our society or its management by making material misrepresentations about either, trying to organize a boycott against our society, or supporting or providing a platform for such an attack.
- Has committed any serious act involving the initiation of force against another (e.g., assault, theft, or fraud), unless: (i) the person discusses the matter with the management; (ii) the management believes the person is rehabilitated; (iii) if the aggrieved includes another participant, he consents; and (iv) the person agrees to such conditions as the management may deem prudent.
All participation in our society is subject to this agreement. Amended terms will be effective upon publishing, subject to notice to prior participants.1. Respect for Our Society
Everyone agrees to respect our society, including agreeing to:
2. Guests and Children
- Our Qualifications
- Respect our minimum qualifications for participation.
- Avoid making any other welcome participant feel unwelcome.
- Our Interest
- Avoid trying to change the uniting interest or the purposes of our society.
- Avoid promoting ideas that are in conflict with Objectivism to our society. See definitions under Principles.
- Our Management
Ask the management regarding:
Any permission is subject to withdrawal.
- Any promotion of any activity or other subject matter to our society.
- Any use of our society’s name in the promotion of any purpose, activism, other organization, or other subject matter.
- The member agrees to be an attentive social link between others in our society and any of his guests who do not meet the qualifications for membership.
- An adult participant agrees to be fully responsible for the safety and conduct of any children he brings.
- Everyone agrees to avoid uncivil conduct toward or about another welcome participant, anywhere. This is a form of respecting our society, including qualifications for participation.
- Logically, uncivil conduct is:
- Not persuasive argument.
- Inflammatory, calling for personal defense.
- Usually a confession of intellectual impotence.
- Uncivil conduct is characterized by a personal disrespect or attack. It can be by manner, tone, non-verbal signals, or statements directed to or regarding another person, overtly or by subtle implication. Uncivil conduct includes, for example:
- Rudeness, e.g., pointed refusal to acknowledge another, abruptness, baiting, contemptuousness, or talking down.
- Ad hominem arguments, including:
- Damning with faint praise.
- Argument from intimidation (which is aimed at moral cowardice or unthinking credulity).
- Attacking an argument by attributing necessarily personal qualities to it, such as “stupid,” which really means “only a stupid person would make the argument.”
- Misrepresentations about another of any kind, including:
- Straw-man argument.
- Putting words in another’s mouth, e.g., by psychologizing or assuming another’s feelings or motivations.
- Defamation involving factual falsehood, including reckless gossip.
- Accusing another of anti-Objectivism, intellectual dishonesty or other immorality, or psychological problems without clear and convincing evidence and analysis.
- In a structured discussion, the participants agree to Robert’s Rules of Order.
- If one makes a mistake, upon reflection he should recognize the mistake, make such amends as may be possible, and take pride in doing this justice. Meanwhile, others agree to behave constructively and with maturity.
In all participation via our website, everyone agrees to avoid:
5. Society Events
- Content unfriendly to our interest or participants.
- Copyright infringement (more than “fair use” excerpts).
- Misquotation or misleading quotation.
- Non-attribution or misattribution.
- Vulgar or sexually-explicit content.
- Awful spelling, grammar, or style.
- Off-topic reply.
Everyone agrees to conduct himself in a safe, lawful, and socially-acceptable manner at a society event. In particular, everyone agrees to:
- If requested, provide the host or the management with his full name, contact information, and the names of his guests.
- Appropriate dress and dignified manners.
- Avoid boring or interrupting others.
- Avoid vulgarity and adult topics in the presence of children.
- No recording or photography of another without his permission.
- No contraband.
- No intoxication.
- No illegal drinking of alcohol.
- Alert the host or our management of any concerns or complaints.
- The host of a society event reserving the right to refuse entry or eject any person for any reason; however, unless based on our qualifications and agreement for participation: (i) the host agrees to refund any money the person paid for the hosting of the event; and (ii) the management will judge whether the host may host future events.
- Everyone agrees to honor any privacy or copyright expectations that may be attached to another participant’s personal information and communications. For example, e-mail is not to be forwarded or published without the author’s permission. An exception would be to prevent or stop an immoral act involving the initiation of physical force against another (e.g., theft or fraud).
- A communication with one manager may be shared with other managers if it is reasonably related to a management issue for our society, unless specifically requested otherwise.
If anyone has a complaint about another participant that interferes with his ability to enjoy participation in our society, he agrees to not retaliate or be uncivil, but rather to seek mediation or justice from the management under our Constitution, including on Participation, and, if necessary, under general principles of justice. (Obviously,
we will not use retaliatory physical force, which is the proper function of the government.)
Similarly, children are expected to seek mediation or justice from a child supervisor, parent, event host, or the management.8. Risks and Releases
Each participant agrees, including on behalf of any children he brings:
- To bear all risks, disclosed and undisclosed, known and unknown, now and in the future, arising out of or in any way connected with participation in our society.
- To release our society and its managers from all claims, demands, and damages (actual and consequential), of every kind and nature, arising out of or in any way connected with participation in our society.
This includes, without limitation, for:
- His transportation to or from, attendance of, or the actions of himself or others at a society event.
- The organizing or hosting of a society event.
- A manager’s judgment of any matter in the name of our society.
V. Judging“Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking … —that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth.”
Our principles for judging in the name of our society
are as follows:
1. A judgment should include:
- Citation to the relevant section(s) under Constitution or Participation.
- Factual findings.
- An action, if any.
2. A judgment on Participation should avoid including a manager’s personal
opinion or judgment, regardless of any disclaimer. See management Principles (above).
3. If a complaint regards a personal act of a manager, he should not judge unless no other qualified manager is available.
4. If necessary and proper to address such issues to judge a matter arising under our Constitution or on Participation
: “The standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life
, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.” “Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. … a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge …” A conscious evil is “damning the good for being the good. (For example: A man who opposes the Capitalist system because he thinks that it is a bad system, is merely ignorant, not immoral. A man who opposes the Capitalist system because
it is good
, is truly evil.)” Evasion “leaves an evil unnamed, unanswered, and unchallenged.” —Ayn Rand
5. The burden of proof is presumption of innocence, unless a different burden is specified. “Since men are born tabula rasa, both
cognitively and morally, a rational man regards strangers as innocent until proved guilty, and grants them that initial good will in the name of their human potential.” —Ayn Rand
6. The standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence, unless a higher standard is specified. “Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality. Give the benefit of the doubt to those who seek to know.” —Ayn Rand
7. The evidence will be weighed for trustworthiness and analyzed for that which it logically supports. Many types of hearsay are untrustworthy. Hearsay is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at a hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the statement.
8. An opportunity to be heard will be given before taking any action against a person, unless prudence justifies a temporary action or the record speaks for itself (e.g., a publication).
9. Patience and warning will be used to constructively address a person, but an egregious case may be addressed immediately.
10. A matter will be addressed in private to do justice without embarrassing a person as he learns; however, a matter may be addressed publicly where it involves a prominent activity or justice requires.
11. If regarding a person, an action may include, for example:
- Editing or deleting a website post and sending the original to the author.
- Special terms for continued participation, for example, requiring an apology or improvement.
- Suspension or termination of participation.
12. No right to reconsideration or appeal—but one may ask the management.
VI. Disclaimer“It is not legitimate to put words into my mouth which I never said, nor to ascribe to me reasons which are not my reasons.”
The publications or other actions of any of the managers, speakers, members, and guests of our society do not necessarily express or reflect the ideas of Ayn Rand, Objectivism, or our society.
North Texas Objectivist Society
November 3, 2012
© Old Toad 2005–12