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Objectivism: Dual Foundationalism
and the Core of Objectivist Logic

The Core of Objectivist Logic

One of the vital pieces which has been missing from the Objectivist Theory of knowledge has been the identification of a method for achieving objectivity, that is, in terms of the epistemic norms which are subsumed by the standard of objectivity. Such epistemic norms are normative principles, much like the principles of ethics, for they tell us what we ought to do. However, their goal and standard is essentially distinct: rather than guiding us in the pursuit of values in accorandance with the standard of value, they guide us in the pursuit of knowledge in accordance with the standard of objectivity.

Dr. Peikoff deserves credit in this area for the recognition of the need for the dual methods of reduction and integration (see the taped lecture series "OBJECTIVISM: The State of the Art"), but if we are to go further, it is necessary to acknowledge at least the cardinal epistemic norms themselves. Logically, the most fundamental epistemic norms (after the standard of objectivity) are the norm of reduction and the norm of integration, but they in turn act as standards by governing the two distinct methods, and thereby subsume their respective cardinal epistemic norms. For future reference, I will list these norms here.

The central epistemic norms of reduction are: The Primacy of Perception (by reference to which recognize the objects of perception as providing the empirical foundation for knowledge), The Norm of Linear Reasoning (by reference to which we avoid circular reasoning, but more importantly, structure our philosophy hierarchically, recognizing the logical structure of justification, both in terms of empirical evidence and in terms of explanatory principles), The Primacy of Identification (by which we recognize that all evaluation is radically dependent upon identification), The Primacy of Cognition (in accordance with which we recognize and grant priority to the process of cognition-- which includes evaluation-- over emotion, and thereby recognize appeal to emotion as a fallacy), and The Norm of Intellectual Independence (by reference to which we recognize appeal to authority as a fallacy).

The central epistemic norms of integration are: The Norm of Coherence (in accordance with which deduction takes place), The Rule of Simplicity (in accordance with which we achieve unit-economy, ultimately arriving at the logical/explandatory-foundation for the knowledge which is the Objectivist Metaphysics), The Norm of Context-Keeping (in accordance with which we recognize the fact that the meaning and application of a conclusion depends upon the context from which the conclusion was derived), and The Norm of Self-Referential Coherence (by reference to which we recognize the invalidity of the skeptical position that "knowledge is impossible," and ultimately defend the incorrigibility of the Objectivist Metaphysics). However, there is an essential distinction which must be made: that which exists between the cardinal epistemic norms and what I refer to as the boundary norms of epistemology. All cardinal epistemic norms are concerned with the process of identification, directing it so that we may acquire knowledge.

In contrast, the boundary norms (that is, the primacy of identification, the primacy of cognition, and the norm of intellectual independence) are the norms by reference to which we distinguish between the process of identification and other psychological processes (that is, evaluation, emotion, and communication), and recognize the priority of the process of identification. Thus the proper logical structure which exists between the central norms of Objectivist Logic is: the standard of objectivity, which subsumes the norm of reduction and the norm of integration; followed by the cardinal reduction norms of the primacy of perception and the norm of linear reasoning; followed by the norms of integration-- the norm of coherence, the rule of simplicity, the norm of context-keeping, and the norm of self-referential coherence; and then followed by the central boundary norms-- the primacy of identification, the primacy of cognition, and the norm of intellectual independence.

Together with the cardinal epistemic norms, the boundary norms form the core of Objectivist Logic, and simultaneously, a code of action which is more fundamental than that which is provided by ethics, a code which guides us, not in the realm of the existential action by which we volitionally adhere to reality, but within the more fundamental realm of knowledge through which we volitionally adhere to reality by means of cognition. Likewise, the resolve to act in accordance with any one of these norms is properly regarded as an epistemic virtue, entirely analogous to the virtues dealt with in ethics.

Together with the empirical foundation, the core of Objectivist Logic forms the principle means by which we explain how we arrive at the Objectivist Metaphysics, but it is not to be regarded as providing an explanation of the Objectivist Metaphysics itself, for it is the metaphysics which provides the most fundamental concepts and principles by reference to which all explanation takes place, including the explanation of both perceptual and conceptual awareness, and provide the ultimate explanatory foundation for even the epistemic norms themselves.

The Basic Idea Behind Dual Foundationalism
The Basis for Epistemic Normativity/ Notes
A Distinction Regarding Justification
The Nature of Epistemic Norms
The Core of Objectivist Logic
Reference Tables

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General Index


©1996 by Timothy D. Chase. All rights reserved.

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