North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Pages

Welcome!




Please read our About page, including on Membership and our Participation Agreement. 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.” —Ayn Rand

Our society is interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism—the philosophy of reason.

Ayn Rand's works include:

  • Fiction
    • Atlas Shrugged
    • The Fountainhead
    • We the Living
    • Anthem

  • Philosophy
    • For the New Intellectual
    • The Virtue of Selfishness
    • Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
    • Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
    • The Romantic Manifesto
    • Philosophy: Who Needs It

Essentially, Objectivism holds:

  • 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.”

  • Morality: “There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man's Life is its standard of value. All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil. ... Man’s life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose.”

  • 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.” —Ayn Rand

Who
As detailed under Membership, 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. Some events may be open to the public.

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 other activities, such as:
    • Activities of particular interest to some of our members.
    • Events open to the public, such as a debate with an opposing view.
  • Objective Management
    Our society’s written statement of explicit principles is an instrument of objective management. This, not anarchy or authoritarianism (by analogy), is required for a large, sustainable, and friendly society.



III. Mission





“[T]he name I have chosen for my philosophy is Objectivism.” —Ayn Rand

Our society is united by a constructive interest in Objectivism. 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 system of philosophical principles that she advocated in the body of her works and other works she endorsed. Used as a proper name—not a concept—it refers to a single, particular philosophy and excludes any claimed additions, deletions, or modifications. With integrity, Objectivism includes the philosophical principles advocated in 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.’” Leonard Peikoff, OPAR, 1991, Preface.

Whether Objectivism is true, good, or logically integrated are separate questions from its identification and naming by Ayn Rand’s authorship or endorsement.

“Objectivist” is an adjective expressing that something is consistent with Objectivism—a claim judged by reference to the standard of Objectivism.

For other purposes, members are not required to agree with this usage.




IV. Membership





“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 Rand


1. Qualifications
Our society welcomes the membership of anyone who is constructively interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which includes at least:
  • Having read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.
  • 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.

2. Disqualifications
Our society does not welcome the membership of anyone who:
  • Attacks Ayn Rand, her works, or Objectivism.
  • Is a spiritual or philosophical leader in conflict with Objectivism.
  • Has attempted or committed any serious act involving the initiation of physical 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.



V. Participation 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.” —Ayn Rand

All participation in our society is subject to this agreement. Amended terms will be effective upon reasonable notice.


1. Respect for Purposes
Everyone agrees to respect the uniting interest and the purposes of our society, including to:
  • Avoid attacking Ayn Rand, her works, or Objectivism.
  • Avoid promoting to our society ideas that are in conflict with Objectivism. See the definition of “promoting” under our Constitution.

2. Respect for Management
Everyone agrees to respect the management of our society, including to:
  • Respect management judgments.
  • In a structured discussion, respect the moderator and Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • Ask the management regarding:
    • Any promotion to our society.
    • Any use of our society’s name in connection with anything outside our society.
  • Avoid attacking 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.

3. Respect for Society
Everyone agrees to respect our membership and other participants, including to:
  • Respect our qualifications and disqualifications for membership.
  • Respect this participation agreement.
  • Avoid making any other welcome member or participant feel unwelcome.

4. Guests
  • A member may invite guests to appropriate events, but ask the management in advance regarding inviting a person who has any disqualification for membership.
  • A member agrees to be an attentive social link between his guests and others in our society.

5. Children
An adult participant agrees to be fully responsible for the safety and conduct of any children he brings.


6. Decency
Everyone agrees to conduct himself in our society according to prevailing standards of propriety and civilized society. For example, everyone agrees to avoid:
  • Making conspicuous and repeated breaches of propriety.
  • Appearing disreputable or dangerous, e.g., as having an indecent occupation or sporting a vicious political symbol.

7. Civility
Everyone agrees to civil conduct toward or about another welcome participant, everywhere. This is a form of respecting our society, including our qualifications for membership, our welcoming a member's guests, and our terms for participation. Logically, uncivil conduct is: not persuasive argument; inflammatory, calling for personal defense; and 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, such as:
    • Pointed refusal to acknowledge another.
    • Abruptness.
    • Interrupting.
    • Baiting or harassing.
    • Contemptuousness (e.g., talking down).
    • Dominating a discussion (e.g., as a windbag).
  • Ad hominem arguments, such as:
    • 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, such as:
    • Straw-man argument.
    • Putting words in another’s mouth, e.g., by psychologizing or assuming feelings or motivations.
    • Defamation involving factual falsehood, such as reckless gossip.
    • Accusing another of anti-Objectivism, intellectual dishonesty or other immorality, or psychological problems without clear and convincing evidence and analysis.

8. Privacy
  • Everyone agrees to respect any privacy or copyright expectations that may be attached to another participant’s personal information and communications. An exception would be to prevent or stop an immoral act involving the initiation of physical force against another.
  • 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.

9. Events
At society events, everyone agrees to conduct himself in a safe, lawful, and socially-acceptable manner. 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 grooming and appearance.
  • Dignified manners.
  • 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.
  • The host of a society event reserving the right to refuse entry or eject any person for any reason; however, unless based on our participation agreement: (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.

10. Website
In participation via a society website, everyone agrees to avoid:
  • Copyright infringement (more than “fair use” excerpts).
  • Misquotation or misleading quotation.
  • Non-attribution or misattribution.
  • Libel.
  • Vulgar, indecent, or sexually-explicit content.
  • Awful spelling, grammar, or style.
  • Off-topic reply.
  • Spam.

11. Concerns or Complaints
Everyone agrees to promptly alert a manager to any concerns or complaints regarding safety, legality, philosophical direction, or anything that interferes with his enjoyment in our society.

If regarding another participant, everyone agrees to not personally retaliate or be uncivil, but rather to seek investigation, mediation, or justice from the management regarding participation, and, if necessary, under general principles of justice. (Obviously, except in emergency self-defense, we will not use retaliatory physical force, which is the proper function of the government.)

Similarly, children are expected to seek justice from a child supervisor, parent, event host, or manager.

Meanwhile, everyone agrees to behave patiently, constructively, and with maturity.


12. 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, including without limitation for negligence, 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 actions of himself or others at a society event.
  • The organizing or hosting of a society event.
  • A manager’s judgment of any matter for our society.



VI. Constitution





A. 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.” —Ayn Rand

The managers agree to undertake limited responsibilities in speaking and acting in the name of our society:

1. Responsibilities
  • To maintain the limited purposes of our society.
  • To maintain the minimum qualifications for membership.
  • To maintain the participation agreement, except for more open terms that may be allowed for a specific activity that is open to the public (such as a debate against an opposing view).
  • 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 the principles of our Mission, of Membership, our Participation Agreement, and our Constitution, as may be necessary and proper, according to our principles for Judging.

2. Limitations
  • On Promoting

    • 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.
      • 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, p. 509. Controversial issues include abortion, animal treatment, libertarianism, the Brandens, and Kelley. For example, rather than sponsor a dove hunting or libertarian event, which would call upon all members to support the specific purpose of the event and the basic principle for its organization, offer an Objectivist scholar to address the issues.
      • Any other organization, except ad hoc. See The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, Nos. 6 & 7, re speaking to vs. joining a group.
      • A manager’s personal opinion, judgment, act, or work, unless with disclaimer. “Personal” means not necessary and proper under our Constitution.
      • Anything vulgar, indecent, or sexually explicit.

    • “Promoting” by or to our society includes activities such as organizing, sponsoring, affiliating, championing, advertising, offering, or selling something in a manner that would make any part of it directly relevant to what our society stands for. “Manner” includes factors such as officially or personally, by a manager or other participant, approvingly or critically, repeatedly or rarely, centrally or incidentally, prominently or inconspicuously, and claimed or disclaimed as Objectivist.

  • 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.
    • Prohibit or intimidate anyone from discussing or debating, approvingly or critically, any subject matter, except for reasonable regulation of time, place, and manner according to the nature of an event, even if the subject matter is not to be promoted by or to our society.
    • Restrict any member in good standing from participating in a society event, except for reasonable criteria according to the nature of the event.

  • On Risks
    To avoid untoward risks of liability, for example, by not providing alcohol.

  • On Bylaws
    To make no bylaw that is:
    • Inconsistent with the principles of our Mission, Membership, Participation Agreement, this Constitution, or Judging.
    • Non-objective, e.g., vague or retroactive.

B. 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.” —Ayn Rand

The Organizer may undertake responsibility for our management, and, therefore, be the owner of our society, in this context meaning as an organization and its property, such as its names, trademarks, copyrights, websites, and contact lists. In this case, other managers are selected by and report to the Organizer.

Alternatively, our society may be an organization with bylaws for ownership and selecting the managers.


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.” —Ayn Rand

Aspirationally, a manager (e.g., organizer, director, officer, or other manager) should be:
    • A member in good standing.
    • Active at least quarterly in events or management.
    • Knowledgeable about Objectivism.
    • Committed to the essential holdings of Objectivism.
    • Supportive of our management purposes, principles, structure, 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



VII. Judging





“To judge means: to evaluate a given concrete by reference to an abstract principle or standard. It is not an easy task; ... It is fairly easy to grasp abstract moral principles; it can be very difficult to apply them to a given situation, particularly when it involves the moral character of another person.” —Ayn Rand

Our principles for judging in the name of our society are as follows:

1. A judgment should include:
  • Citation to the relevant principle of our Mission, Membership, Participation Agreement, or Constitution.
  • Factual findings.
  • Analysis.
  • Conclusion.
  • Action, if any.
2. If necessary and proper to address such issues in judging a particular matter: “The standard of value ... 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.)” —Ayn Rand

3. The burden of proof is presumption of innocence. “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

4. 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

5. 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).

6. 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.

7. Patience and warning will be used to constructively address a person, but an egregious case may be addressed immediately.

8. A matter will be addressed in private to do justice without needlessly embarrassing a person as he learns; however, a matter may be addressed publicly where it involves a prominent activity or justice requires.

9. If a complaint regards a personal act of a manager, he should not judge unless no other qualified manager is available.

10. If regarding a person, an action may include, for example:
  • Warning.
  • Editing or deleting a post, sending a copy of the original back to the author.
  • Special terms for continued participation, e.g., requiring an apology or improvement.
  • Suspension or termination of participation or membership.

11. No right to reconsideration or appeal—but one may ask the management.



VIII. 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.” —Ayn Rand

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
July 15, 2014
© Old Toad 2005–14

Table of Contents

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About North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) July 15, 2014 3:33 PM Old Toad

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