Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge

Volume 2. Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology

Volume 2. Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology
Allan Gotthelf, editor
James G. Lennox associate editor
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013

Volume 2. Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology

Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge offers scholarly analysis of key elements of Ayn Rand’s radically new approach to epistemology. The four essays, by contributors intimately familiar with this area of her work, discuss Rand’s theory of concepts—including its new account of abstraction and essence—and its central role in her epistemology; how that view leads to a distinctive conception of the justification of knowledge; her realist account of perceptual awareness and its role in the acquisition of knowledge; and finally, the implications of that theory for understanding the growth of scientific knowledge. The volume concludes with critical commentary on the essays by distinguished philosophers with differing philosophical viewpoints and the author’s responses to those commentaries.

This is the second book published in Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies, which was developed in conjunction with the Ayn Rand Society to offer a fuller scholarly understanding of this highly original and influential thinker. The Ayn Rand Society, an affiliated group of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, seeks to foster scholarly study by philosophers of the philosophical thought and writings of Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand’s Theory of Concepts: Rethinking Abstraction and Essence Allan Gotthelf
Conceptualization and Justification Gregory Salmieri
Perceptual Awareness as Presentational Onkar Ghate
Concepts, Context, and the Advance of Science James G. Lennox
Concepts and Kinds
Rand on Concepts, Definitions, and the Advance of Science: Comments on Gotthelf and Lennox Paul E. Griffiths
Natural Kinds and Rand’s Theory of Concepts: Reflections on Griffiths Onkar Ghate
Rand on Definitions—“One Size Fits All”? Jim Bogen
Taking the Measure of a Definition: Response to Bogen Allan Gotthelf
Concepts and Theory Change
On Concepts that Change with the Advance of Science Richard M. Burian
Conceptual Development versus Conceptual Change:Response to Burian James G. Lennox
Perceptual Awareness
In Defense of the Theory of Appearing: Comments on Ghate and Salmieri Pierre Le Morvan
Forms of Awareness and “Three-Factor” Theories Gregory Salmieri
Direct Realism and Salmieri’s “Forms of Awareness” Bill Brewer
Keeping up Appearances: Reflections on the Debate Over Perceptual Infallibilism Benjamin Bayer
Uniform Abbreviations of Works
List of Contributors

From the book’s back cover:

“A landmark set of essays, with comments and responses, exploring the implications of Rand’s theories on perception, concept-formation, definition, justification, and conceptual change in science. The publication of this remarkable and engaging volume brings to the attention of professionals a theory of knowledge whose depth, breadth, and nuance may surprise them.”

—Harry Binswanger, Editor, second edition of Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology


“This second volume of Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies provides extensive analysis of Ayn Rand’s epistemology, the most important—but perhaps the least well-known—part of her philosophy of Objectivism. Contributed by scholars both sympathetic to and critical of Rand’s approach, these revealing essays address a wide range of topics, including Rand’s unique accounts of concept-formation and objectivity.”

—Darryl Wright, Harvey Mudd College


“By locating Rand’s theory of concepts in both traditional and contemporary debates, this collection offers a textured portrait of her distinctive view while also advancing the debates themselves. The essays are uniformly engaging and incisive, making substantial contributions on such topics as definitions, theory change, and epistemic justification. The crosscurrents in the comments and responses make the issues come alive, and broader applications (such as for value theory) are apparent. Overall, a terrific contribution.”

—Tara A. Smith, University of Texas-Austin