Jun 22, 2009

What is Objective Law?

Stephen Plafker, guest writer

Under Objectivist political theory, the purpose of government is to eliminate the initiation of physical force from human relationships.

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This is the task of government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

(Ayn Rand, “The Nature of Government” in
The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 127-128, pb.)
How is the government to do this? How does Ayn Rand’s theory apply to the law: to the making of laws and to their operation? No full answer exists, but there are two guides: (1) the example of the common law of England transported to America and improved by the founding fathers; and (2) Dr. Binswanger’s article, "What is Objective Law?”, The Intellectual Activist, Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan. 1992. (A preliminary version is available on the website of The Association for Objective Law. It will be the discussion text for a two-week study group beginning in the third week of July on SGO.)

The article tells us how the law is supposed to work. It provides the basis to determine what is right and what is wrong in modern law. The latest, but by no means the only, example in modern society to which this article's theme applies is the issue of the qualifications of the proposed new Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

Steve Plafker is a retired Los Angeles County deputy district attorney. He holds a B.S from M.I.T., an A.M. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois; these degrees are in mathematics. He has a J.D. from the University of Southern California. He was a co-founder of The Association for Objective Law (TAFOL). His recorded lecture series, "Structure of the American Constitution," is available at The Ayn Rand Bookstore.