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 Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (Cambridge, 2015). She is also the author of Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist; Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality; and Moral Rights and Political Freedom, as well as a number of articles in such venues as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy and Social Philosophy and Policy. Recent articles include “What Good Is Religious Freedom? Locke, Rand, and the Non-Religious Case for Respecting It” (Arkansas Law Review); “Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case Against Exemptions” (Virginia Journal of Law and Politics); and “Something to Behold: On the Spiritual Value of Art and Sport” (Fair Play: Journal of Philosophy, Ethics and Sports Law). Smith’s current research focuses on intellectual freedom.

Smith holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also 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”