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Tara Smith

Professor of Philosophy
University of Texas at Austin

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  • Egoism & Selfishness
  • Individual Rights
  • Morality & Ethics
  • Objective Law
  • Objectivism
  • Philosophy
  • Virtue

Tara Smith is a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas. Dr. Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.

Dr. Smith’s most recent book is Egoism Without Permission: The Moral Psychology of Ayn Rand’s Ethics. Other books are The First Amendment: Essays on the Imperative of Intellectual FreedomJudicial Review in an Objective Legal SystemAyn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous EgoistViable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality; and Moral Rights and Political Freedom. Her scholarly articles span a wide range of subjects, from religious freedom and the “rational basis test” (in law) to the virtue of pride, the value of friendship, and the value of sport for the serious fan.

At UT, Smith holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship. Dr. Smith is a member of the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute.

Career Roles


  • Philosophy
    University of Texas at Austin
    1989 – present


  • Board of Directors
    Ayn Rand Institute
    2009 – present

Selected Works


“Originalism, Vintage or Nouveau: He Said, She Said Law” in Fordham Law Review 2013

“Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism” in NYU Journal of Law & Liberty 2010

“Originalism’s Misplaced Fidelity: ‘Original’ Meaning Is Not Objective” in Constitutional Commentary 2009


“Rationality and Objectivity”


“Moral Ambition: Perfection and Pride”

“The Value of Purpose”

“Passing Judgment: Ayn Rand’s View of Justice”

“How ‘Activist’ Should Judges Be?”

“The Menace of Pragmatism”

“The Pursuit of Happiness — and Tools for Attaining It”

“The Politics of Pretend”

“’To Imagine a Heaven’ — and How Sense of Life Can Help You to Claim It”