The big news is that Craig Biddle and Stephen Hicks will be debating Open Objectivism at next month’s Ayn Rand Europe’s Belgrade conference. Hicks, who is associated with David Kelley’s The Atlas Society, will be taking the Open Objectivism position. The push-back by the Closed position advocates has been intense, see here and here. James Valliant was particularly irate, arguing that Open Objectivism is dishonest, an anti-concept, a repudiation of Ayn Rand, etc. He says that to debate Hicks on the topic is equivalent to debating a Holocaust denier, a flat earther, and an advocate of slavery. Valliant’s anger toward The Atlas Society apparently goes back to 1986 when Kelley allegedly said that there should be a debate over Barbara Branden’s just-published biography of Rand. Valliant is upset that when he published The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics in 2005, Kelley refused to debate. Perhaps Kelley changed his mind in the intervening 29 years or concluded that it wasn’t worth his time to debate the author of a book who considers throwing surprise parties immoral.
For background on the Open Objectivism controversy see here and here. The debate seems to be mostly about the amount of judgment and condemnation that Objectivists should have toward non-Objectivists (particularly leftist academics) and group rivalries than about the essentials of Rand’s philosophy. For example, Closed Objectivists don’t get worked up over the Ayn Rand Institute purporting to know what Rand would have thought about Donald Trump.
[Contributed by Niel Parille.]