Free Minds and Free Markets

What is the full meaning of a free mind? Why does force negate a conceptual consciousness? And what is the resulting connection between the value of reason and the value of capitalism?

This essay illuminates the underpinnings of individual freedom—in theory and in practice. Mr. Schwartz examines the genesis of the concept “force” in this context, distinguishing it from “force” in nature and showing how it is applicable only to volitional beings. Based upon a detailed analysis of the mind’s inability to function when subjected to force, he shows why political freedom is necessary—and possible—only because man has free will. Further, he relates these points to such contemporary developments as evolutionary psychology and behavioral economics, as he explains why our culture’s view of man as a deterministic entity leads inexorably to demands for more government controls.

Elaborating on Ayn Rand’s point that “a free mind and a free market are corollaries,” the article demonstrates how a proper defense of capitalism does not simply require, but is, a defense of the free mind.

(This is an extensively revised version of a lecture delivered by Mr. Schwartz at the 2009 Objectivist Conference in Boston.)

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