客觀主義和 Covid-19教育阿特拉斯大學
客觀主義和 Covid-19

客觀主義和 Covid-19

4 分鐘
March 30, 2020

Editor’s Note:  As the health and economic effects of Covid-19 intensify, we asked philosopher and The Atlas Society Founder David Kelley, Ph.D. to outline some of the ways Ayn Rand’s philosophy – particularly the virtues of reason, productivity, and benevolence  – can help us rise to current challenges and prepare for challenges to come in the days and weeks ahead.

In the current situation of a pandemic, the lockdown of offices and businesses, and economic losses, it is easy to lose one’s way in confusion, fear, resentment, or depression. It is all the more important to have a philosophical compass to steer by—principles that hold true of life as such, even in abnormal times.

Reason and reality

  • The essence of rationality is recognizing that facts are facts.
  • The novel coronavirus is a biological reality, as are its capacity to spread rapidly and its effects on people’s health. It is what it is. You can’t evade it or wish it away.
  • The lockdown is a political reality – a government policy, yes, not a fact of nature – but it's the situation we are in now. For us as individuals, it too has to be accepted as fact.
  • Be rational in looking for information. The internet is a fabulous resource, but it is also a petri dish for fake news, conspiracy theories, and the like – which are all the more prevalent in times of crisis. Don't fall for it.

Be productive and proactive

  • Accepting facts does not mean passivity. We have choices. Our plans are disrupted, and things we took for granted (going to class or work, dining out, traveling) are not available now. But we can still choose how best to deal with these new facts.
  • There's no gain in complaining, giving up, waiting passively for it all to go away.
  • You can use your mind to advance your goals, thinking like an entrepreneur. You can continue your studies and be in a better position when classes resume. You can do things to continue working and advance your career, or find new sources of income.


  • When things go wrong, it’s natural to be upset, frustrated, ready to blame anyone and anything for what feels like a loss. The counter-measure is to step back and appreciate what you have.
  • Not long ago in human history, people had no idea what caused deadly plagues. Now we have the science to sequence the corona genome, develop vaccines, and produce everything from disinfectants to ventilators. Take a moment to thank the scientists, doctors, inventors, and business people who made this possible. Don't take their achievements for granted. Take them as a model of what you can achieve . . . .
  • While most of us are confined to "sheltering at home" and "social distancing," many people continue providing services. Take a moment to thank
  • First and foremost, the doctors, nurses, and others in health care who are working overtime and at risk to deal with the rise in Covid-19 patients,
  • The workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, and other places who are keeping us supplied with necessities,
  • The FedEx drivers, truckers, and other delivery people dealing with increased volume,
  • The firefighters, police, and ambulance drivers working to deal with emergencies,
  • The companies like Facebook that provide ways for us to stay connected virtually,
  • The list goes on . . . . And if you're on the list, take pride in what you do.

For political activists: Be cautious in taking positions on the political response to the pandemic.

The government is now flooding the economy with credit and subsidies, which will ultimately be paid for by all taxpayers. That is at odds with a libertarian view. Yet the government ordered the lockdown in the first place, which has caused the economic problems the credit/subsidy bill aims to help with.

So was the lockdown an unwarranted intrusion into individual rights? Maybe. But we have to take two principles into account:

  • Individuals have the right to life, including the right to take measures to protect their health and well-being.
  • No one has the right to infect other people with a dangerous disease.

Assessing the implications of these principles is a complex judgment call. The nature of the novel coronavirus, especially its long incubation period and ease of transmission, make it virtually impossible to contain without society-wide measures.

Contagious diseases are a difficult issue for a libertarian view. The lockdown may not be the best solution, but some measures to halt contagion could be.

Of course, there is plenty to criticize in government responses, starting with China and including the regulatory control that the CDC and FDA maintained over tests.

Even so, we can appreciate the blessings of the liberty we have. We all benefit from

  • The freedom of scientists to conduct research on the disease – and to communicate their results without fear of censorship;
  • The freedom of producers to re-allocate resources to the crisis and find new solutions; and
  • The freedom we all have to make the best of a hard time.




David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


凱利的哲學著作包括倫理學、認識論和政治學方面的原創作品,其中許多作品以新的深度和新的方向發展了客觀主義思想。他是認識論論文感官的證據》的作者;客觀主義中的真理與寬容,論客觀主義運動中的問題;粗獷的個人主義:仁慈的自私基礎;以及《推理的藝術》,這是一本廣泛使用的入門邏輯教科書,現已出版第 5 版。

凱利曾就廣泛的政治和文化主題發表演講和出版。他關於社會問題和公共政策的文章發表在 《哈珀斯》、《科學》、《理性》、《哈佛商業評論》、《弗里曼》、《論原則》等雜誌上。在1980年代,他經常為 《巴倫週刊》財經和商業雜誌 撰寫有關平等主義、移民、最低工資法和社會保障等問題的文章。

他的著作 《一個人的生活:個人權利和福利國家》 批判了福利國家的道德前提,並捍衛了維護個人自主、責任和尊嚴的私人替代方案。1998年,他出現在約翰·斯托塞爾(John Stossel)的ABC/TV特別節目“貪婪”中,引發了一場關於資本主義倫理的全國性辯論。




概念與自然:對現實主義轉向的評論(道格拉斯·拉斯穆森和道格拉斯·登厄伊爾)”,《理性論文》第 42 期,第 1 期,(2021 年夏季);這篇對最近一本書的評論包括對概念的本體論和認識論的深入探討。






現代性黨”,卡托政策報告,2003年5月/6月; 導航員,2003年11月;一篇被廣泛引用的文章,關於前現代、現代(啟蒙)和後現代觀點之間的文化分歧。

"I Don't Have To" (IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) and “I Can and I Will” (The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011); Companion pieces on making real the control we have over our lives as individuals.