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David Kelley (born 1949 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American philosopher and author. He is best known for his advocacy on behalf of Objectivism. He is founder and senior fellow of the Atlas Society (formerly The Objectivist Center, and the Institute for Objectivist Studies). He lives in Washington, D.C..
Education and careerEdit
Kelley is trained as a philosopher: He received his BA and MA in philosophy from Brown University, where he studied with the American rationalist, Roderick Chisholm. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, where his advisor was the American postmodernist Richard Rorty. He taught philosophy and cognitive science for 7 years at Vassar College, but failed to obtain tenure. He then taught logic for a brief time at Brandeis University, while working as a freelance writer for Barron's Magazine and other publications. In 1989 he founded the Institute for Objectivist Studies (IOS).
IOS was established to provide an Objectivist alternative to the more orthodox Ayn Rand Institute. (For details, see the entry under The Atlas Society.) IOS sponsored scholarly work on Objectivism and conducted summer workshops attended by academics and graduate students. In 1997 IOS was renamed The Objectivist Center (TOC), as the organization took on a more public-outreach and advocacy orientation.
In order to pursue his scholarly interests, Kelley stepped down as executive director of TOC in 2004, and the organization -- now under the leadership of former regulatory policy analyst Edward Hudgins -- was again renamed as The Atlas Society (TAS). TAS also moved its headquarters from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to Washington, D.C. The organization continues to sponsor scholarly work, publishes a website and a political-cultural magazine, The New Individualist, and puts on conferences and seminars where scholars and fans of Rand's work meet and mingle.
Kelley's books cover a variety of subjects within philosophy. They include The Evidence of the Senses, which argues for a unique form of direct realism about perception; Unrugged Individualism, which explores benevolence as a virtue; A Life of One's Own, a moral critique of the welfare state; and The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand, focusing on the schisms within the Objectivist movement. With Roger Donway, he co-authored Laissez Parler: Freedom in the Electronic Media, a critique of government regulation of broadcasting.
Kelley has not published any new scholarly work in philosophy since at least 1998, though he has given public addresses, taught courses, and has written articles on politics and current events. An ongoing research and writing project over the past decade has been his magnum opus, The Logical Structure of Objectivism, which he is co-authoring with economist William Thomas.
Currently, Kelley is also actively involved as a script consultant and producer for the film version of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, forthcoming from Baldwin Entertainment and Lions Gate in 2008, to star Angelina Jolie in the role of heroine Dagny Taggart.
Objectivism "open" faction Edit
Leonard Peikoff's Ayn Rand Institute declared Objectivism to be a "closed system" containing only the philosophic principles advocated by Rand during her lifetime. According to Kelley, Objectivist orthodoxy holds that cognitive error is the result of dishonesty or ignorance and therefore must be condemned and never sanctioned. This characterization is disputed by Peikoff and his supporters.
In 1989, Kelley set out in a pamphlet his critique of the orthodox Objectivist movement. The pamphlet was titled "Truth and Toleration" (later republished in an expanded edition as the book The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand). Kelley declared Objectivism to be an "open system" amenable to revision and addition. He held that cognitive error can result from many factors and need not involve moral culpability. This critique subsequently split the movement into two factions. This split led to Kelley founding the Institute for Objectivist Studies (now The Atlas Society), a non-profit dedicated to cultural advocacy on behalf of "reason, individualism, achievement, and capitalism".
Some who subscribe to Kelley's brand of open-system objectivism call themselves "Neo-objectivists" (though Kelley does not use this term).
- On epistemology, The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception (1986) ISBN 0-8071-1476-6
- On logic, The Art of Reasoning (1988) ISBN 0-393-97213-5. Originally published in 1998 by W. W. Norton, it is currently in its third edition, and has been well received.
- On ethics, Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence (1996, rev 2nd ed 2003) ISBN 1-57724-066-9
- On politics, A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State (1998) ISBN 1-882577-71-X
- On open-system objectivism, The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand: Truth and Toleration in Objectivism (2000) ISBN 0-7658-0060-8
- David Kelley Publications and Professional Experience
- The Atlas Society / The Objectivist Center
- David Kelley's works at the The Objectivism Store
- The David Kelley Corner at Objectivist Living
- False Friends of Objectivism A collection of essays arguing against Kelley's interpretation of Objectivism
- curriculum vitae
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