Harry Binswanger (//; born 1944) is an American philosopher. He is an Objectivist and was a long-time associate of Ayn Rand, working with her on The Ayn Rand Lexicon. His doctoral dissertation, in the philosophy of biology, presented a new theory of the goal-directedness of living action, in opposition to the views of one of his dissertation advisers, Ernest Nagel. The dissertation was later published as The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts. He taught philosophy at CUNY's Hunter College from 1972 to 1979 and at other New York City schools as well as at the University of Texas, Austin for a semester in 2002. Since 1997, he has operated a fee-based email discussion group on Objectivism. Binswanger has spoken on Objectivist philosophy at over 30 universities, across the U.S., Canada, and abroad. His television appearances have included the Glenn Beck show, Geraldo at Large, C-SPAN panels, and CNBC's On the Money. He also appears in Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, the Academy Award nominated documentary by Michael Paxton.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Binswanger received his Bachelor of Science degree in "Humanities and Engineering" from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where he was instrumental in establishing the student group "Radicals for Capitalism") and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1973. Binswanger was a close friend of Ayn Rand, and his subsequent philosophical work has been done in the Objectivist tradition. He edited the new material in the second edition of Rand's book, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, published in 1990 after her death (the first edition was published in 1979) and frequently contributes to Objectivist publications. He also compiled The Ayn Rand Lexicon, a mini-encyclopedia of Rand's views on some 400 topics in philosophy—now available online. His own book, The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts, was published in 1990. Since then, he has given many lecture courses developing Objectivist theories in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. These include "Free Will", "Abstractions from Abstractions", "The Metaphysics of Consciousness", and "Consciousness as Identification," "Psycho-Epistemology," and "Philosophic Issues in Economics."
Binswanger is currently on the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, and is a professor at its Objectivist Academic Center. He also moderates and regularly posts to an email discussion group on Objectivism, called "The Harry Binswanger List," or HBL.
Like Rand, Binswanger was born into a Jewish family. Binswanger is a scion of Binswanger Glass, that was founded in 1872 by Samuel Binswanger.
Binswanger has been described as an "orthodox" Objectivist for his commitment to the ideas of his mentor, Ayn Rand, whom he considers a "once in a millennium genius."
Binswanger is a supporter of completely open immigration, seeing it as an issue of individual rights and citing Rand (who immigrated to the U.S. from Soviet Russia) as the premier example of the benefits derivable from such immigration. In response to worries about terrorists immigrating to the U.S., he has argued that rather than impose immigration restrictions (and other limits on Americans), the U.S. should engage in total, offensive war to end the regimes that sponsor terrorism. He has long urged immediate regime change in Iran, which he regards as the mainspring of the Islamic terrorist movement. Binswanger expressed support for Israel on the Glenn Beck program on Fox News.
- Binswanger, Harry (1990). The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts. Los Angeles: Ayn Rand Institute Press. ISBN 0-9625336-0-2.
- Hull, Gary, ed. (2005). "'Free Competition' at Gunpoint". The Abolition of Antitrust. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-7658-0282-1.
- Ralston, Richard E., ed. (2011). "The Dollar and the Gun". Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. Irvine, CA: Ayn Rand Institute Press. ISBN 0-9625336-2-9.
- Ralston, Richard E., ed. (2011). "Philosophy: The Ultimate CEO". Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. Irvine, CA: Ayn Rand Institute Press. ISBN 0-9625336-2-9.
- The Objectivist Forum. Vols 1–8, 1980–1987. LCCN 83-640866
- Rand, Ayn (1986). The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-453-00528-4.
- Rand, Ayn (1990). Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Co-edited with Leonard Peikoff (2nd ed.). New York: Meridian. ISBN 0-453-00724-4.
- McConnell, Scott, "Harry Binswanger," 100 Voices: an Oral History of Ayn Rand, 2010, New American Library, pp. 575–611.
- Binswanger, Harry. "Open Immigration"
- The Harry Binswanger List
- Ayn Rand Institute, pages referencing Harry Binswanger
- Harry Binswanger's page and list of articles at the Capitalism Magazine website
- Ayn Rand Institute page with written material and lectures from Dr. Binswanger
- Harry Binswanger and the Surveillance State
- Harry Binswanger on Torture