Date Written

2015

Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name

Political Science-BA

Department

History & Political Science

First Committee Member

Andrew Mills, PhD

Second Committee Member

Tammy Birk, PhD

Third Committee Member

Meredith Meyer, PhD

Keywords

Ayn Rand, Objectivism, Environmentalism, Anti-environmentalism, Right-wing Politics, Environmental Political Theory

Subject Categories

American Politics | Ethics and Political Philosophy | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Intellectual History | Political Theory | United States History

Abstract

Environmental protection has become a volatile political issue in the United States, especially within the past decade. This toxicity must be remedied to facilitate substantive reform. Anti-environmentalism on the part of the American Right can be partially traced back to the writings of the conservative philosopher Ayn Rand. In this paper, I aim to show that Rand fundamentally misunderstood the mainstream environmental movement in the U.S., and similarly her environmental philosophy, as well as her answers to solving environmental damages, are inadequate in providing answers to collective environmental problems (i.e. climate change). I argue that even in a framework as far-Right as Rand’s, environmentalist sentiments can exist when they are understood as willing sacrifices, and imposed environmental regulations can be supported through an expanded notion of property rights.

 
 

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