Picture of Viable Values:  A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (Softcover)

Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (Softcover)

By Tara Smith


Dr. Smith, a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, has written an unequivocal defense of Ayn Rand's ethics. More precisely, this is a defense of Ayn Rand's metaethics—the foundation for values as such.

Smith asks the fundamental question: "Why be moral?"—and answers: "Because our lives depend on it." In this thorough work she presents Ayn Rand's view that the nature of human life is the source and the standard of human values.

The first part of the book is largely polemical, rejecting the major schools of thought on this subject. Smith then methodically presents Ayn Rand's position, defending it against a range of possible objections. Through intensive examination, Smith demonstrates the meaning—and the objectivity—of a life-based ethics. She concludes that it is only the Objectivist concept of "value" that is "viable"—viable in that it is the only view that "truly substantiates moral obligations," and viable in that only such values are "rooted in the literal requirements of human life."

This is a meticulous "chewing" of the principle that life is the standard of value. Smith diligently examines and validates the key elements of that principle. The book is burdened at times by an overly "academic" style. But over all, this scholarly work is an admirable, first-hand presentation of the rich content of Ayn Rand's metaethics.

Table of Contents (Main Headings Only)


1. Introduction

2. Why Be Moral?

3. Intrinsic Value: A False Foundation

4. Morality's Root in Life

5. Morality's Reward: Flourishing

6. Principled Egoism: The Only Way to Live

Selected List of Works Consulted


About the Author

(Softcover; 205 pages)