Program

General Sessions

Concurrent Sessions

ARU Experience Sessions

Social Events

Lunches

Attendee Services Hours: 3:00PM – 7:00PM

Meet and mingle with fellow attendees at the official opening of OCON 2024! This event is smart casual. Your fee includes two drinks, and a cash bar is available. The opening reception and dinner are included in all in-person week passes.

Day pass holders : Cost to attend: $185. Registration deadline is May 30.

Attendee Services Hours: 8:00AM – 4:30PM
Archives Exhibit Hours: 11:30AM – 4:30PM | Guided Tour: 1:00PM

If this is your first OCON, come meet other first-timers, OCON speakers, and ARI staff at this casual breakfast event.

Over the course of recent years, the American electorate has become increasingly tribal, unthinking, and easily swayed by demagoguery. How should we think about the state of America’s political culture as we head into this year’s election season?

Lunch on your own.

Fifty years ago, Ayn Rand journeyed to West Point to speak to a new senior-level course offered by the Department of English. She told the cadets—and the world—who needed philosophy, and why. Now you can learn from archival documents and new interviews why and when she was invited, which readings the course contained, how she prepared, and what about her lecture astonished her hosts.

Objectivity is the key to avoiding misunderstandings and making one-to-one conversations productive. There are two contexts of knowledge, two value hierarchies, and two “crows” to consider to communicate effectively. Topics include what constitutes subjective vs. objective goals for a conversation, the need to manage emotions as they arise rather than shut them down, and how doing this effectively by “holding all of the values with care” can get a conversation back on track and help you deal objectively with another person’s real or apparent irrationality.
Foreign policy is both a political activity and a field of applied ethics. However, the metaphysical and epistemological premises held by theorists and practitioners shape their view of ethics. The lack of an objective view of the world has led to theories and policies that do not support, and are often harmful to, the role of a proper government. However, an objective understanding of the global system can lead to a first-handed foreign policy.
4:40 – 8:00 PMFree Time

OCON has moved to the West Coast, and so has our dance class! Come learn West Coast Swing, a partner dance that is very popular across the country and beyond. No experience necessary, and you don’t need to bring a partner. So, come learn the hottest swing dance and practice it at the dance party immediately following the lesson and then again at the closing reception! The dance lesson (8:00 – 9:30 PM) will kick off the evening and be followed by the dance party (9:30 – 11:00 PM).

Attendee Services Hours: 8:00AM – 4:30PM
Archives Exhibit Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM | Guided Tour: 1:00PM

Oppression and authoritarianism have been constant themes in regimes that ruled in the name of Marxism. From the Soviet Union to Cuba and from Yugoslavia to China, individual rights were ignored and violently suppressed. Is such anti-individualism a feature or a bug in Marxism? What about Marx himself? How did he view the individual? Was he the one who planted the seed for the future orgy of anti-individualist violence that has been perpetrated in his name?

Often, people make the mistake of being too passive about friendship, treating it as something that just happens automatically in life—for instance, maintaining friendships with people one just happened to know growing up, or using shortcuts, such as a shared philosophy, in choosing friends. In this talk, we’ll explore in detail what it means to pursue friendship in a philosophically minded way—integrating the value of friendship with one’s other values, pursuing them with purpose, and honoring the trade that is the spiritual foundation of friendship.

The issue of moral sanction features prominently in Ayn Rand’s work, especially Atlas Shrugged, and in the Objectivist movement and its history. Dr. Ghate will discuss the issue of moral sanction both from the perspective of Rand’s fiction and nonfiction, considering what is distinctive in Rand’s approach and how what she says is often misunderstood, and from the perspective of application to cases past and present.

Choosing a spotlight value is an important step toward improving your life and happiness. Do you have one?

Join us for an interactive session with Tal Tsfany, where he’ll help you identify a value to put in the spotlight.

Gain the confidence to know what you want and get crowd-sourced advice on how to best pursue it. You’ll complete some exercises and get motivated to commit to your goal. Get ready to power up your pursuit of happiness!

You are welcome to bring your own lunch.

Philosophy is for living. But how do you get the most value out of your philosophy? This is a question the panelists have been exploring from a variety of perspectives, ranging from psychology to moral philosophy to personal development. The panel will share their thoughts on how to leverage Objectivism for success and happiness, addressing questions such as “What are common struggles people face in trying to live by Objectivism?” and “What are underappreciated aspects of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that can empower people to enjoy life more?”

In the age of social media everyone’s a self-proclaimed pundit, tweeting or posting on current events whether or not they possess any relevant knowledge or expertise. Meanwhile, our culture is saturated with stale, conventional thinking. People are taken in far too easily by false alternatives, tribalism, and superficial perspectives utterly lacking in nuance or principle.

In this sample class—based on the full-length ARU course of the same name—Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate will share their insights into how they approach thinking about current events, how they acquire sufficient knowledge to comment meaningfully on any given topic, and how they use Objectivism as a lens to clarify even the thorniest of issues.

The most pernicious ideas are often injected into the culture by the method of “package-dealing”—the attempt to integrate the unintegratable. Expanding on previous material he has presented on this subject, Mr. Schwartz offers a more advanced analysis of the mechanics of the package-deal. He addresses such questions as: Can the same word stand for both a valid concept and a package-deal? What is the role of a definition in the formation of package-deals? What is the difference between anti-concepts and package-deals? This talk focuses particularly on the telltale signs one should look for in trying to identify a package-deal.

In this talk, Dr. Adalja will detail innovative new developments in science that will enhance the lives of individuals. Topics to be discussed include transplantation of pig hearts and kidneys into humans, cell-based therapies for cancer, genetically modified mosquitoes, new vaccines and vaccine technologies, AI-discovered antibiotics, CRISPR therapeutics, and more.

4:40 – 6:30 PMFree Time

Join us for one of our most festive and inspiring events of the year. Harry Binswanger is retiring from ARI’s board of directors after 38 years. To mark this very special occasion, this year’s Gala will honor Harry’s contributions to advancing our mission. All proceeds will go to ARI programs personally selected by Harry: increasing readership of Ayn Rand through the essay contest and books program and training the next generation of intellectuals at the Ayn Rand University Graduate Center.

Celebrate with us in formal attire (cocktail dress or black tie).

End the day with a viewing of Love Letters, the 1945 film written by Ayn Rand. The film, which received four Academy Award nominations, offers an enchanting glimpse at Rand’s Hollywood career and her collaboration with producer Hal Wallis. The Ayn Rand Institute’s archivists will be available after the screening to discuss the film’s fascinating history.

Attendee Services Hours: 8:00AM – 9:45AM  |   11:45AM – 4:30PM
Archives Exhibit Hours: 11:00AM – 5:00PM | Guided Tour: 1:00PM

Immigration is one of the most contentious topics on today’s political landscape. But that has also been true throughout American history. Why have immigration restrictions taken hold in America since the 19th century? What ideas animate immigration restrictionists, and what explains their success in restricting immigration in the U.S.? 

Join Ms. Vergara Cid as she takes you through the history of the immigration debate in the U.S., uncovers the philosophy behind restrictionists, and points to a solution to bring about more freedom to the U.S.

How does science work, and how does it differ from religion or pseudo-science? According to Karl Popper’s “falsificationism,” science, unlike religion and pseudo-science, doesn’t claim certainty; it aims only to disprove its hypotheses, and this is the source of its rationality. Popper proposed his theory as an alternative to the view that science distinguishes itself by proving its conclusions inductively. In this lecture, we’ll discuss the reasons behind Popper’s anti-inductivism and falsificationism and how they undercut the rationality of science.

Tal Tsfany, ARI’s president and CEO, will review ARI’s mission to spread Objectivism and the progress made during 2023–24.

Meet some of ARI’s up-and-coming students and intellectuals-in-training and hear about their work and experiences with the Institute and with Objectivism. Connect with other ARI Benefactors and learn more about how ARI is fostering the next generation of New Intellectuals. This is an invitation-only event for ARI’s Benefactors, in appreciation of their generous support of the Institute.

What’s the role of books, essays, articles in sustaining and growing an intellectual movement? Ayn Rand saw these as a movement’s “permanent fuel.” At this special live taping of the New Ideal podcast, we celebrate two milestones: the release of an important new book on the First Amendment and the republication in New Ideal of groundbreaking articles on Rand’s novels. Join us for a conversation with Robert Mayhew, Greg Salmieri, and Tara Smith on the role of new scholarship in advancing Objectivism. Moderator: Elan Journo. Includes audience Q&A.

This sample class is based on the full-length ARU course of the same name. The full course explores the major schools of thought, methods of inquiry, and empirical findings taught in a typical introduction to  psychology course. But it explores how to understand and evaluate these theories, methods, and findings from an Objectivist perspective. Students learn how Objectivism can help us consume and get personal value from existing work in psychology, even when it is deeply flawed philosophically. The sample class will feature a selection of topics drawn from the full ARU course.

A continuation of Dr. Binswanger’s “Saving Math from Plato” (OCON 2023): how the Aristotelian, perception-based approach to mathematics refutes or re-interprets wrong ideas advanced by figures such as Russell and Cantor. Topics will include number, infinity, limits, and the axiomatic concepts of mathematics. (The lecture assumes no knowledge of mathematics beyond beginning algebra.)
4:40 – 6:30 PMFree Time

Announcing the return of the fan-favorite talent show! Enjoy pre-selected and rehearsed submissions from the cream of the crop of Objectivist talent present in Anaheim this week. 

Relax after a full day of talks and events by enjoying live piano music in a lounge setting.
Come join us for karaoke after OCON’s Got Talent!

Attendee Services Hours: 8:00AM – 4:30PM
Archives Exhibit Hours: 9:00AM – 2:00PM | Guided Tour: 1:00PM

American schools have long performed dismally at providing the education children need to read well. A movement in favor of systematic phonics instruction offers hope for improvement, but while phonics is essential to teaching children to read, they need further education to become highly capable readers. This talk will define a properly aspirational goal for reading education, explore the types of knowledge and skills that go into reading, and identify key areas beyond phonics where American schools must improve if students are to achieve a high level of literacy.
What’s the best way to learn Objectivism? And what are common mistakes people make when trying to understand and implement Ayn Rand’s philosophy? In this special session, ARI’s Don Watkins and Aaron Fried share strategies for getting the most out of the time you spend studying Ayn Rand’s ideas. They also discuss new ways Ayn Rand University is making it easier than ever for people to learn, live, and advocate Objectivism.

Many people who support rational egoism nonetheless struggle to fully live it due to subconscious premises and psychological baggage left over from years led by antithetical moral codes. This lecture previews Dr. Smith’s forthcoming book on the subject, Egoism Without Permission : The Moral Psychology of Ayn Rand’s Ethics. After offering an overview of the project, the lecture drills down on a critical but often misunderstood element of healthy happiness: desire. We will see how, while reason is man’s means of survival, desire is man’s reason for surviving. 

This is an invitation-only event for students. Meet peers interested in Ayn Rand and instructors from ARI’s educational program, Ayn Rand University. The event will feature a free lunch and a brief presentation about ARU.

What is at stake in the Russia/Ukraine and the Israel/Hamas conflicts? What are America’s interests in the chaotic Middle East? How do we evaluate China’s global ambitions and its claims on Taiwan? What’s the impact of foreign policy on the 2024 campaign trail? How does Objectivism help us unpack these and related issues? Panel discussion with extensive audience Q&A.

This sample class is based on the full-length ARU course of the same name. The full course explores the principles and attitudes that will help guide students in their work, career, and the world of business more generally. A major focus is on what the application of these ideas looks like, explored in part through a series of interviews and discussions with Objectivist businessmen, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and professionals in various fields.

The session will focus on the nature of a fulfilling career, how to select a career, and key tips for building a fulfilling career.

As Ayn Rand wrote, “The concept of individual rights is so prodigious a feat of political thinking that few men grasp it fully—and two hundred years have not been enough for other countries to understand it.” We can see this failure of understanding in the view, advanced by many conservatives and libertarians today, that the concept of individual rights ultimately derives from or is at least consistent with the Judeo-Christian morality. In this talk, we’ll explore some highlights of the history of the concept to understand why it is essentially a secular innovation, even when thinkers who helped advance it held Christian views. We’ll especially focus on how Enlightenment views of human nature and knowledge helped untether rights” discourse from its antecedents in religious thought.

Following the publication of her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand reoriented her career to become a public intellectual, appearing on television, radio, and other media to promote her ideas. During this panel featuring the Ayn Rand Institute’s archivists, attendees will have a chance to hear excerpts from one of Ayn Rand’s public appearances: the “lost” second interview between Ayn Rand and Mike Wallace. 

4:40 – 5:00 PMFree Time

Ayn Rand University students, auditors, and alumni (1+ years), including alumni of the Objectivist Academic Center or the Objectivist Graduate Center, are invited to meet and mingle. A light fare will be served.
Conductor Thomas Shoebotham will lead a group of Southern California professional musicians in a concert of works for string orchestra. This moving and delightful performance will include works such as “Andante Festivo” by Jean Sibelius, “Eclogue” by British composer Gerald Finzi, “Simple Symphony” by Benjamin Britten, and Dvořák’s “Serenade for Strings.”

Face off against board members, speakers, and fellow attendees in a Texas hold ’em poker tournament. Bragging rights and non-cash prizes to winners and an evening of fun memories for everyone, with funds going to support the mission of the Ayn Rand Institute. Register by June 10 to receive a chip bonus.

Attendee Services Hours: 8:00AM – 2:00PM
Archives Exhibit Hours: 9:00AM – 2:00PM

Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust is a monumental work of Romantic literature that presents one man’s ceaseless striving to transcend the limitations of human knowledge and experience. By exploring some of the most profound and moving passages from the poem, this talk will provide a glimpse of Goethe’s grand-scale themes and characterizations, and demonstrate the rich rewards to be gained by joining his hero—the “good man” with the “darkling aspiration”—on his quest to discover the “highest wisdom” of life.
“Socratic Wisdom”—knowing our own ignorance–is the ability to differentiate what we do not know from what we do. This is a key component of objectivity, vital for properly weighing and implementing the knowledge we possess and directing ongoing investigation and inquiry. In this talk we’ll discuss the nature and importance of this introspective clarity and how it is achieved. We will cover practical methods and specific tips for identifying our ignorance and differentiating it from our knowledge.

Ayn Rand denounced racism as “the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.” She also rejected as collectivist many of the measures being advocated to combat this evil, including what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On the 60th anniversary of that law, Dr. Salmieri will revisit the themes of Rand’s classic article “Racism,” relating them to present-day America.

Topics include the definitions of “race” and “racism,” how the rejection of free will incline intellectuals toward racism, how superficially opposed racist doctrines on the political left and right embolden one another, in what respects racism can be “institutional” or “systemic,” how statist policies (including provisions of the Civil Rights Act) perpetuate existing racial inequities, and why it is only by embracing capitalism that we can put racism and its legacies behind us.

Aging provokes us to think deeply about our career priorities, friendships, romantic relationships. With fewer years ahead of us, what truly matters? At this exclusive lunch for Atlantis Legacy members, Tara Smith, who has begun scholarly exploration of these issues, will offer brief remarks on some of the emotional challenges of aging and how Objectivism might help us to manage these. (The Atlantis Legacy is a program that acknowledges donors who have arranged bequests and other estate gifts to fuel ARI’s future.)

As a historian and philosopher of biology, much of Dr. Lennox’s research has focused on the philosophical foundations of history’s two greatest biologists: Aristotle and Charles Darwin. Historians and philosophers often portray these two giants as diametrically opposed in their approach to the study of life. But were they? In this talk, he will provide a novel answer to that question—and guidance on how to engage with such questions objectively.

The creation of the atom bomb during WWII was an extraordinary achievement, dramatized in part in the movie Oppenheimer. What were the three greatest challenges in making the bomb and how does the success in overcoming those very difficult obstacles illustrate the application of objectivity? Which great scientists’ work were most essential to the success of the project? As Ayn Rand said of Apollo 11, the Manhattan Project was “an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality.”

3:20 – 7:00 PMFree Time

We’ll close OCON with a reception, seated dinner, and dance. Your fee includes two drinks, and a cash bar will be available. Come and enjoy the company of old and new friends and dance the night away!

This event is dressy; coats and ties for gentlemen, evening wear for ladies, please. The closing event is included in all in-person week passes.

Day pass holders: Cost to attend: $185. Registration deadline is May 30.

Objectivist Conferences / Ayn Rand® Institute reserves the right to make necessary adjustments to the schedule. Speakers, talks and events will be added periodically as they are confirmed. For OCON updates, sign up below.

Updates

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