Scholar Bio

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

Dr. Smith is author of Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (2015); Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (2006); Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000); and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995) 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. Smith’s current research focuses on intellectual freedom.

Recent articles include:

  • “What Good is Religious Freedom? Locke, Rand, and the Non-Religious Case for Respecting It,” Arkansas Law Review (2017)
  • “Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case Against Exemptions,” Virginia Journal of Law and Politics (2017)
  • “Something to Behold: On the Spiritual Value of Art and Sport,” Fair Play – Journal of Philosophy, Ethics and Sports Law (2016)
  • “Originalism, Vintage or Nouveau: He Said, She Said Law,” Fordham Law Review (2013)
  • “Neutrality Isn’t Neutral: On the Value-Neutrality of the Rule of Law,” Washington University Jurisprudence Review (2011)
  • “Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty (2010)
  • “Originalism’s Misplaced Fidelity: ‘Original’ Meaning Is Not Objective,” Constitutional Commentary (2009)

Dr. Smith is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute.

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  • Morality/Ethics
  • Egoism/Selfishness
  • Individual rights
  • Philosophy
  • Objectivism
  • Virtue
  • Objective law
  • Culture & society
  • Government & business

Courses Taught


Board Member

  • Board of Directors
    Ayn Rand Institute
    2009 – present


  • Philosophy
    University of Texas at Austin
    1989 – present

Selected Work

Talks and Articles

  • “Rationality and Objectivity”
  • “Self-Interest”
  • “Moral Ambition: Perfection and Pride”
  • “Passing Judgment: Ayn Rand’s View of Justice”
  • “The Menace of Pragmatism”
  • “How ‘Activist’ Should Judges Be?”
  • “The Value of Purpose”
  • “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”