Over at Amazon I've been parsing the 'review' of ARCHN by one "A Person." Interesting only as an example of the lengths some Randians will go to to misrepresent their critics, and of their cheerful rejection of such basic standards as providing evidence for assertions, keeping quotes in some semblance of context, or even reading the book in question. Not a pretty picture.
I've inserted some additional points into my initial Amazon comment to save casual readers the tedium of wading through the rest of the thread, which consists mostly of me extracting a couple of foggy retractions from a highly reluctant A Person. I reproduce my points here, however, because ultimately the exchange strongly reinforces Greg's basic thesis about Objectivism's avoidance of "empirical responsibility."
Let's start with AP's opening comment:
"...each of my observations is an obvious logical conclusion of Mr. Nyquist's statements."
If only this were so! Let's look at the first of his "obvious logical conclusions" . AP quotes Nyquist saying "What I seek is not for my readers to agree with me--that would be an immense bore--but that they understand and criticize me intelligently." From this, AP concludes that ARCHN is "more of a hypothetical stab against Objectivism than an organized argument, and its author's stated purpose is not to provide a convincing refutation of Objectivism". But this is a non-sequitur - it does not follow that ARCHN is therefore not an organised and convincing argument. While AP found himself unable to muster the intellectual stamina to make it past the book's intro, in order to make it even there he must have encountered the Table of Contents, which sets out Nyquist's comprehensive critique of the 7 main branches of Rand's philosophy. (Reader Alexander Fürstenberg in his 4 star Amazon review gives a handy overview of the book's structure in detail). Further, from the fact that philosophical systems cannot be *finally* refuted ( and this is true; for metaphysical statements are often unfalsifiable in form - think "A is A" for example - and also 'true believers' of particular philosophic systems can always simply *refuse to accept* any refutation offered, much like the priest who refused to look through Galileo's telescope) it does not follow that ARCHN does not set out to be strongly convincing. It does, and judging from the reviews of readers who are not already Randian "true believers", it is.
Of course, basic logical fallacies aside, we should not expect much factual information either from a 'reviewer' who reads no further than the introduction. It is little wonder then that AP makes any number of inane, fact free claims. For example, he says Nyquist views philosophical systems "as collections of isolated facts rather than integrated wholes that stand on foundational principles." But this is simply wrong - following Karl Popper, Nyquist *does* view philosophies as integrated wholes, which can nonetheless be criticised and successfully refuted (although not to "true believers" of course) by searching for counter-examples in empirical fact. Thus ARCHN is chock-a-block full of *factual* refutations of Objectivist dogmas, 360 or so pages of them starting with Rand's theory of human nature, moving through history, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics etc. These factual refutations are in turn logically devastating to the fundamental principles of Objectivism.
Thus AP's claims that Nyquist does not address Rand's "actual doctrines" and that he "does not intend to offer specific refutations of Miss Rand's factual assertions" are completely laughable - a perfect example of a 'true believer' simply refusing to look through the telescope.
One wonders: why isn't AP embarrassed by making such obviously fake statements in public? Why would one attempt such a lengthy and transparent folly as reviewing a book without reading it in the first place? Well, Greg Nyquist has written elsewhere (in the upcoming Journal of Ayn Rand Studies) that despite their rhetoric about "facts of reality", in practice the followers of Ayn Rand seem to believe that by adopting her dogmas they are somehow relieved of "empirical responsibility"; of the basic responsibility studying the facts. This is the essence of Nyquist's critique of Objectivism - that it is, despite its claims to the contrary, a philosophy that goes out of its way to evade reality. This 'review' gives us a nutshell case of this tendency, as AP does not trouble himself to study the fact of the book itself, and considers all it is necessary to do is trim a few quotes from the introduction into suitable cues to commence reciting his Objectivist catechism. Thus, as he has not read ARCHN, AP's 'review' *can only be* his own imaginary rendering of its actual content mixed with generic Randian boilerplate and some typically inept attempts at logical deduction; which in turn can hardly make it worth examining in any more detail, other than as a textbook example of the Randian method of "bluff, buttressed by abuse" in action, and, as I also write at the end of (the Amazon discussion) thread, of how *not* to conduct a good-faith intellectual discussion.