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Rand's Strange Answers

March 5, 2006

Tags Philosophy and Methodology

By coincidence, just yesterday I discovered Ayn Rand Answers (referenced below by Mr. Tucker) at the library and checked it out.

So far, I've been surprised at how much I like Rand on so many things. I had become so used to ignoring some of her warmongering and libertarian-hating followers that I had forgotten how good she can be when she is good.

Still, she said some odd things (or maybe she didn't say them, as Dr. Reisman suggests). Consider these questions and answers on gun control:

What is your opinion on gun control laws?

I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it's not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, noncriminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It's not an important issue, unless you're ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn't very practical.
What is your attitude toward gun control?
It's a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people--they are not carried for hunting animals--and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don't know how the issue is to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.

So much for the right to one's own life! The thinking here appears to be so confused that I hope the editor somehow mangled what she actually said. Rand is also confusing (at least in this book) on the value to be given potential human life. On page 4, she says retarded people don't have rights because they are "unable to function rationally." Nonetheless, she says, such people are "entitled to protection" because "they may improve and become partly able to stand on their own." Just thirteen pages later, however, Rand says abortion is an absolute right because we must "never confuse an actuality with a potentiality."

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