Talk:Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

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Former good article nominee Objectivism (Ayn Rand) was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Article Cross Talk[edit]

Use of cross-talk page[edit]

There doesn't seem to be much use of the Objectivism cross-talk page lately. I'm the only one who has used it since February. Is it still relevant? --RL0919 (talk) 20:41, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps not. Although I love it, I have to say it now seems like an esoteric feature. Karbinski (talk) 14:25, 13 November 2012 (UTC)


There's already been discussion on the Ayn Rand talk page about this. We have many sources calling her philosophy "popular", and an extremely high-quality one that narrows it down further to one of the three kinds of popular philosophy: amateur.

I don't wanna repeat myself, so if you got something to say, say it there, not here. MilesMoney (talk) 03:09, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

OK, there's a discussion on the Ayn Rand page, but it's clearly not finished. You should not forcing "amateur" into this page until it's concluded. The page should be left as it has been for a long time, but you are also clearly willing to edit war and not respect other editors by waiting . BashBrannigan (talk) 03:15, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
The characterization of "amateur" is an opinion-type description. The term can be used lower down in the text, supported by the RS, and properly described as a "in the opinion of....." type statement. But, in accordance with WP:UNDUE, it is clearly inappropriate in the lede. – S. Rich (talk) 05:24, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Srich, you need to read the source. It's not an opinion or an insult. MilesMoney (talk) 05:30, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
The discussion at Talk:Ayn Rand#Again, not a philosopher is relevant and I do encourage other editors to participate there. However, Objectivism is not the same thing as Ayn Rand. Even if the article about Rand ended up describing her as an "amateur", the philosophy she started has since been pursued by others who are undoubtedly professionals. Some are mentioned in this article; for example, Tara Smith and Allan Gotthelf. So applying the term in this article would require support beyond what it would take to apply it to Rand personally. --RL0919 (talk) 16:12, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Just to remind you of a point you once raised, the high-quality source specifically referred to her philosophy as amateur, indirectly referring to her as amateur. You're doing that original research thing again, where you misinterpret sources, and I won't put up with it. MilesMoney (talk) 17:04, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Just because you throw around WP terms like "original research" doesn't mean you are using them correctly. Do you wish to deny that professional academics have promoted Objectivism after Rand's death? There are sources to show that. Huffing and puffing about what you will "put up with" doesn't change that. It also doesn't make one source that you happen to like the sole definitive source for describing the subject. --RL0919 (talk) 18:14, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Professional, academic philosophers have written about the philosophy of The Simpsons, but that doesn't mean that the cartoon was professional philosophy. Remember, each source that calls Objectivism "popular philosophy" is admitting that it's not professional or academic, undermining your claim. I called it original research because I was being nice. More accurately, you're just making shit up as you go along. And, no, I really don't have to put up with that. MilesMoney (talk) 18:17, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Sources that call Rand a "popular philosopher" do not thereby undermine the academics who came later, and one source doesn't create a definitive case for putting something in the lead. As for the posturing, you are welcome to try to find a way not to put up with people here having different opinions from you. I think you will find that exceedingly difficult. --RL0919 (talk) 04:07, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
When they say she was a "popular philosopher", which of the four meanings did they intend? Answer that.
My problem with you isn't that you have a different opinion, it's that you just aren't WP:COMPETENT or WP:NPOV. At this point, you're just dragging your feet and edit-warring. MilesMoney (talk) 02:41, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure you understand what WP:COMPETENT is about, or that it is an essay. In contrast, WP:AGF is a guideline, and WP:NPA and WP:CIVIL are policies. You should take them to heart, because your aggressive attitude is only going to get you embroiled in unnecessary drama. Your accusations certainly aren't going to do much to me, so at best they are waste of typing. As I've already answered elsewhere, I can't always tell what meaning of "popular" a source means when they use the bare phrase without further explanation. So in such cases I decline to accept that it must be equivalent to "amateur". Also, as I've already explained above, the use of such a phrase in regard to Ayn Rand (who died in 1982) does not necessarily characterize the philosophy that endures and has been pursued by professional academics in subsequent years. You have one source that clearly characterizes the philosophy as amateur. Feel free to use that in the body, but one source's opinion doesn't have enough weight to be in the lead. --RL0919 (talk) 04:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
When they say she was a "popular philosopher", which of the four meanings did they intend? Answer that. Until you do, you're wasting my time. MilesMoney (talk) 05:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Answered in detail here. Just because you ask the same question in multiple places doesn't mean I have to repeat myself everywhere. Also, as noted multiple times previously, when a source talks about Rand, that doesn't necessarily implicate Objectivism. This is especially true when the context is clearly biographical, such as saying Rand became a "popular philosopher" at a particular point in her career. --RL0919 (talk) 05:38, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Now that's just nonsense, and I said so on that talk page. And what you're saying here is bigger nonsense. Our sources say "amateur philosophy", so you can't claim it's about Rand but not Objectivism. Not that it makes any sense to claim that she was somehow not an amateur despite creating an amateur philosophy system. Like I said, nonsense. MilesMoney (talk) 06:02, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Countdown on "amateur"[edit]

The addition of "amateur" was reverted even though it's strongly supported by sources (remember: every "popular" is a vote for "amateur"). Each attempt to put it back has been met with edit-warring hiding under the banner of "let's talk it over, first".

Well, here we are: talk. If you can't make a credible argument, then I gotta say you don't have one so we should move forward. No foot-dragging: say your piece or get out of the way. If you revert again without fully explaining yourself, you're just edit-warring, and it's still warring if your explanation is bullshit. MilesMoney (talk) 02:54, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

There are already multiple replies above. Opening a new section doesn't erase them. --RL0919 (talk) 04:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
There are multiple evasions by you. When they say she was a "popular philosopher", which of the four meanings did they intend? Answer that. Until you do, you're wasting my time. MilesMoney (talk) 05:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
See above. The same question asked simultaneously in multiple places is not "multiple evasions". --RL0919 (talk) 05:38, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Dodging it simultaneously in multiple place is evasion. You had to pretend you don't know what simple words mean. MilesMoney (talk) 06:03, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you can make this article on Ayn Rand synonymous with Rand herself as it has moved on. Its not a major school but calling it amateur is I think an opinion not a properly sourced comment. On Rand herself, then any use of 'Philosopher' needs qualification per the ongoing discussion on that page. ----Snowded TALK 05:13, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
We have a highly reliable source calling Rand's philosophy amateur. Do we have any reliable sources supporting your hunch that it's now professional? MilesMoney (talk) 06:26, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
It has a life independently of Rand and that includes some professional philosophers ----Snowded TALK 06:36, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
A professional philosopher can study something without it being a professional philosophy; consider this. Do we have any sources that explicitly acknowledge that Objectivism started off as an amateur philosophy and then say it no longer counts as one? MilesMoney (talk) 07:25, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Page protected[edit]

Please stop this slow motion edit war. If there is talk page consensus to describe Objectivism as an amateur philosophy, then please indicate that with a hidden comment so that there won't be future edit wars. In the meantime, I have fully protected the page for three days. NW (Talk) 05:04, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

It looks like the discussion is on the parent page, not here. The parent page does refer to Objectivism as amateur philosophy, because that's what our best sources call it. MilesMoney (talk) 02:31, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Has the discussion regarding "amateur" concluded? As best I can tell it is still ongoing and if thats the case it should not have been added. BashBrannigan (talk) 06:59, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
It was added after we came to a consensus, but no consensus is permanent. It looks to me like there's still a consensus that "philosopher" (without adjectives) is unacceptable, but there's some disagreement about "amateur" and "self-styled", as well as permanent resistance from the fan club. MilesMoney (talk) 07:49, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
You are not objective, as shown by your use of "fan-club" to those who disagree with you. I also see no consensus to the use of "amateur". As far as I have seen you have shown only the single source for "amateur" while I'm aware of numerous sources which use "philosopher" without qualification. BashBrannigan (talk) 14:40, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
If five sources say Bob is an athlete and one (high quality) source says he's a baseball player, what do we call Bob? MilesMoney (talk) 17:30, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
It is not as simple as that. Ball players are easily classified as professional when they join major, minor, or other leagues where they get paid. Olympic athletes are supposed to be in amateur status, but we don't describe Wilma Rudolph as an amateur. Moreover, "athlete" is the larger classification within which ball payers are members, professional or not. Perhaps a better analogy for our discussion is Henry Thoreau. Certainly a philosopher, but did he get paid as a philosopher or work as an academic philosopher? No. So would we call him an amateur philosopher, even if RS said he never got paid, thereby verifying his amateur or non-professional status? One more caveat: the encyclopedias we are looking at are WP:TERTIARY sources. So we have to weigh them in terms of reliability. In this regard we have camps saying "my source is more reliable than yours!" – S. Rich (talk) 05:39, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
As much fun as it is to repeat myself, I already tackled this here. This discussion is complicated enough without the echos... MilesMoney (talk) 14:03, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed it is complicated ... complicated ... complicated ... complicated. So far, though, I do not see consensus to use the term amateur either here on in the AR article. – S. Rich (talk) 14:31, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
It would be much more helpful if you could try to participate in the discussion instead of pretending you're qualified to decide what the consensus is. MilesMoney (talk) 14:39, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
He isn't the only one who doesn't think there's a consensus! BashBrannigan (talk) 02:01, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
That's fascinating. Tell me more. MilesMoney (talk) 04:28, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Against describing Objectivism as "amateur" primarily because even if accurate and consistent with wiki policies, it adds little to nothing to the article, creates a readability stumbling block, causes the mind to wander down a side street that goes nowhere and viscerally feels like bias. I also think MilesMoney is being overly aggressive and it feels like he has an agenda. If the article goes in his direction, the reader is going to get that signal clearly, and resent it. Does anyone else feel as he does, or even agree with him?Jonny Quick (talk) 22:50, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Lede order[edit]

A lede is supposed to be in inverted pyramid order, with summaries at the top and specifics at the bottom. MilesMoney (talk) 19:09, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

There's no specific requirement for inverted pyramid, just for an "accessible overview" of the article. (See MOS:LEAD.) After the first paragraph, which is expected to "define the topic", the rest can be in any order that makes sense for the subject and respects all applicable policies. If the reaction paragraph contained specifics that depended on knowing the description of the philosophy, then I would say it should definitely go after. But as it stands the reaction paragraph is very general, so I really don't care which position it is in. --RL0919 (talk) 19:23, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
It simply does not make sense to first describe a reaction to a philosophy and then say what the philosophy is. That's appalling writing, and it's illogical. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 19:42, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

It's ridiculous to say, "lede should be inverted pyramid order, not chronological. details such as tenets come last, summaries come first." I don't know precisely what "inverted pyramid order" is supposed to be, and I don't think WP:LEAD mentions this supposedly important "inverted pyramid order." Common sense says that if you're describing a philosophy you first give its "tenets", eg, say what the philosophy actually is. The entire lead is meant to be a summary, so it's pretty dumb to say that "summaries come first." FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 19:28, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

There's a technical term for what you call writing in logical order: it's "burying the lede". General statements come before detailed ones, else you lose the reader. You can criticize it as bad writing, but that would go against the bare basics of journalism. If you don't even understand what Inverted pyramid means, then I suggest you study up on it before making further suggestions of this sort. With all due respect, it would be counterproductive to speak of what you do not comprehend. MilesMoney (talk) 20:26, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Of course, it's also counterproductive for you to edit-war. Consider yourself warned. MilesMoney (talk) 20:27, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
You're showing that you haven't got a case here by referring to wiktionary, rather than to any of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. Vague assertions such as "general statements come before detailed ones" have nothing to do with the specifics of this article, and are of course beside the point. There's nothing about "academia rejected Rand's philosophy" that makes it any more "detailed" than anything else in the lead. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 21:06, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Remedial journalism:
  1. "X is generally ignored and rejected by academia" is a summary of its overall treatment.
  2. "X is composed of the following elements..." is a detailed list of its parts.
In inverted pyramid format, the general statement would go first. In lede-burying format, we'd hide it at the end. HTH. MilesMoney (talk) 22:03, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
That isn't an argument. It's twaddle. It seems to me as though you're more interested in repeating the expression "inverted pyramid" over and over, instead of actually discussing this article. Actually, your comments look like a rationalization for stuffing the criticism of Rand's philosophy before the description of the actual philosophy. It's not going to work. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:17, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Do you have an argument? All I see are violations of WP:AGF and WP:CIVIL. MilesMoney (talk) 22:19, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Really? Because all I see in your comments are vague, windy, rhetorical assertions that have little to do with the specifics of this article. It's stupid to provide the "treatment" of a subject before describing the actual subject itself, and that certainly seems to be what you're proposing. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:24, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
You two sniping at each other isn't going to resolve this, so I posted a pointer to this discussion at Talk:Ayn Rand, since that page has more than double the number of watchers as this one. --RL0919 (talk) 22:31, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Cultural Objectivism is Missing[edit]

I came to Ayn Rand and Objectivism via a push-back reaction to the assertion of "Cultural Relativism" at university, yet I find no mention of it in this article. "Cultural Objectivism" is the argument that cultures are not equivalent, and that they can be measured by objective standards and judged to be superior or inferior relative to other cultures. Odd that I find no online references to it anywhere. Have all online references to this belief been scrubbed?Jonny Quick (talk) 06:04, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

  • I don't think that Cultural objectivism is the same thing as Objectivism. Objectivism is a particular school of philosophy, while cultural objectivism is merely a description of an aspect of a philosophy. It's also usually taken as the default or reactionary position, not To find cultural objectivists, simply search for terms such as "cultural relativism is nonsense" or what-have-you and they'll quickly come out of the woodwork. "Cultural objectivist" is also used frequently as a pejorative term in left-leaning academic discussion, so your filter bubble might be preventing you from finding it. Moral objectivism is a more interesting and applicable meta-ethical stance. (talk) 14:12, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

Blatant Bias in Opening Paragraph[edit]

"Academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, but it has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.[5]"

I'll just do bullets, in no particular order, in order to keep this as brief as possible.

1) Who, exactly is "academia"? This feels very weasel-wordy to me. It implies that she was noticed, but ignored or rejected. Where is the evidence of being noticed? One must be noticed before one can be ignored or rejected. This sentence seems to attempt to achieve the negativity of being ignored and/or rejected without first acknowledging the positive of being noticed. Any reviews of her work when published? An reports of editors specifically telling reviewers to ignore her work?
2) Use of the word "but" seems to try to tie one idea of ignoring and/or rejecting Rand's work, presumably at the time of it's publication BUT "it has been"... passive-voice is weak, understates the idea that the work has a legitimate place today. Another indicator of bias. If the statement is that the work has gone from being rejected and not noticed to a significant influence, then say it in a proactive, positive manner, such as "While a significant influence on American Conservatives and Libertarians (in that order), Rand's work was largely ignored or rejected at the time of it's publication." See how strong, positive statements read much better, convey more meaning and have dramatically less bias without sacrificing anything? Another issue I have is why the "conservatives" must all be americans. Do British, Australian and Canadian conservatives all roundly reject and ignore Ms. Rand, and it's only a small minority of americans and those wacky libertarians that are even aware of it? "Come join the international majority of normal people that are approved by academia and ignore or reject this crazy objectivism stuff." is what the statement is trying to convey.
3) "Academia" is this and that, BUT "libertarians and American Conservatives" are something that are "not academia". All academia is legitimate, and belong together in the higher levels of universities, but there are no libertarians and American Conservatives in academia, with the implication that all academia are center and left of center and libertarians and American Conservatives are marginal and fringe elements outside not just mainstream political thought, but also outside the wider-ranged academia. These are the REAL nut-jobs. The REAL hoot is when the University leftists get to decide which brand of conservative thinking is legitimate and which ones are not. Hint: They are going to pick the weakest and least threatening, and bless them, and Ayn Rand loses.
4) I don't think this statement belongs in the introduction. How many people have been killed in the name of Objectivism? Wars started and fought over? Assassinations and acts of terrorism? The only people that might find objectivism controversial would be people that believe in it's opposite. This statement is not noteworthy in the initial paragraph, and it's existence there is evidence of bias that the informed reader cannot help but notice and stumble over. So not only does it bias the article, but it's existence in the beginning degrades it's readability also. I'd be interested in finding out who it was that put this piece into this place in the article, so that I could take a harder look at their other contributions.Jonny Quick (talk) 08:15, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
The lead (the part before the table of contents), is supposed to summarize points discussed in the main body of the article. If you look down to the the section titled "Intellectual Impact", you will see that it starts by saying, "Academic philosophers have generally dismissed Objectivism since Rand first presented it", with four reliable sources cited in footnotes. The section then goes on to discuss the academic treatment of Rand's philosophy in more detail. So this is what is summarized by "Academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy". The sentence in the lead is also directly sourced to two academic books cited in the footnote for it (whose number you even copied above).
The alternative wording you propose in your second bullet makes even more use of the passive voice than the current wording, so I'm not sure what makes it "strong" in comparison. It also suggests Rand was ignored broadly (not just by academics), which is clearly untrue given the bestseller status of some of her works. There could very well be a better wording, but I don't think your proposal is it. The third and fourth bullets appear to be your own political opinions, which are not relevant to what should be in a Wikipedia article, so I won't address them here. --RL0919 (talk) 15:34, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
The 3rd bullet is my subjective "real time" reaction to the article as it is. After just finishing reading the whole "amateur vs. professional" argument in these "Talk" pages, I understand why. The lead is attempting to force-feed the notion of "class" into the reader's awareness right at the start, and THAT is the fatal flaw. Whether or not academia accepted, rejected or ignored Objectivism and/or Rand, whether or not the philosophy is amateur or professional may be somewhat interesting, but it does not need to be in the LEAD. It feels artificial and pushy. Bullet #4 attempts to convey the idea that for all the controversy (whatever it may be), how relevant is that controversy. Objectivism hasn't resulted in mass-homicide like Nazism, why then would Wikipedia elevate it's detractors to get top-paragraph status in order to communicate their criticisms? The only people that find Objectivism objectionable are hard-core socialists and communists, so the fact that their criticism is considered a top priority is de facto bias in the article. Otherwise, I agree with everything you said, that I've read, thus far.Jonny Quick (talk) 23:04, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
The reaction of academics in relevant fields is an important element for any article about a theory or intellectual movement. The criticism does not have to include accusations of mass homicide in order to be relevant -- most ideological disputes thankfully do not reach that horrific standard. It just has to be discussed in reliable sources that we can use to verify the article and give neutral descriptions of what has been argued. I agree that the summary of the criticism does not need "top-paragraph status", and it doesn't get that now -- it at the end of the lead. If you think the current wording overemphasizes "academia" as a class, then certainly we can discuss other ways to word it, but omitting academic reaction from the lead is not the right solution. --RL0919 (talk) 20:14, 16 December 2013 (UTC)