Sidebar to Life: Your Adventure in Entrepreneurship

Summer 2009 -- Analogies, like fire, are useful servants but dangerous masters. Is the analogy with entrepreneurs a useful guide to the ethics and spirit of rational individualism? Does it go too far? Does it mistakenly erect a specific personality type and mode of life as a general standard for all people?

As Roger Donway notes in “Entrepreneurship: Is Life Like That?” the distinguishing economic role of an entrepreneur is to make decisions for an enterprise and bear the primary risk for the outcome of those decisions. Entrepreneurs may introduce new products and services, new methods of production, or new ways to cross the boundaries between markets through arbitrage. The essence is the attempt to do something new, and that necessarily carries a heightened degree of uncertainty, with the double-edged potential for large gains and large losses. Not everyone has the creative ability to innovate, or tolerance for risk, that are required for entrepreneurial success.

There is also a growing literature on the traits of entrepreneurs, the result of research by business analysts and psychologists. The most frequently mentioned traits fall naturally into the categories I highlighted in my own analysis: the pursuit of goals, self-ownership and self-esteem, and reliance on one’s own judgment.

Some of the traits in each category (see above chart) are matters of personality, preference, or skill rather than character; and to that extent are not moral virtues that can be expected of everyone. People differ in risk tolerance, patience, and intensity of focus on a single goal. They differ in skills of creativity and judgment. Yet all of these are specific forms and embodiments of traits that are virtues: productiveness and responsibility, pride, and rationality. Risk, for example, is a fact of life from which no one is exempt. Accepting that fact and dealing with it rationally—including, as Donway notes, the exercise of caution and prudence—is a universal requirement of life. Indeed, if entrepreneurs tend to have an unusually high tolerance for risk, they also tend to be skilled in estimating the odds, putting safeguards in place, and other forms of caution.

Competitiveness is perhaps an exception to the general rule. Entrepreneurs do tend to be fiercely competitive, and for some, no doubt, beating a competitor is more important than creating value. That is not a virtue. Defining one’s ultimate goal in terms of others bespeaks a lack of independence. Yet competition, like risk, is a fact of life. Indeed, it is a particular type of risk arising from the freedom of others to pursue their own goals, and it arises in all areas of life, from rivals for the affections of a romantic partner, to theories competing for mind-share in the marketplace of ideas, to the long-running battle of Coke vs. Pepsi. In this respect, I question Donway’s objection that “life is not inherently competitive, as entrepreneurship is.” As Donway himself has observed elsewhere, competition and cooperation are normally two sides of the same coin:

… we can see how intensely sociable [freedom] is. The idea that liberty is based on a competition for survival becomes ludicrous. Liberty is based on cooperation for survival.

Even the specific economic phenomenon of competition exhibits this cooperativeness. For economic competition is essentially the struggle to be chosen as a trading partner. And, as trade is mutually beneficial, economic competition is thus essentially a competition to cooperate. It is a struggle to reach what is mutually beneficial. (Roger Donway, “Living Together,” The Freeman, April 1978)





David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


ケリーの哲学的著作には、倫理学、認識論、政治学の独創的な著作があり、その多くは客観主義の思想を新たな深みと方向性で発展させている。著書に 五感の証拠を、 認識論で論じたものです。 目的論における真理と寛容目的論運動の問題点に関するもの。 無抵抗の個人主義。博愛の利己的根拠そして 推理の極意論理学入門の教科書として広く利用されている論理学入門』も第5版となりました。

ケリーは、政治や文化に関する幅広いテーマで講演や出版を行っている。社会問題や公共政策に関する記事は、Harpers、The Sciences、Reason、Harvard Business Review、The Freeman、On Principleなどに掲載されています。1980年代には、Barrons Financial and Business Magazineに 、平等主義、移民、最低賃金法、社会保障などの問題について頻繁に執筆した。

彼の著書 A Life of One's Own:個人の権利と福祉国家福祉国家の道徳的前提を批判し、個人の自律性、責任、尊厳を守る私的な選択肢を擁護するものである。1998年、ジョン・ストッセルのABC/TVスペシャル「Greed」に出演し、資本主義の倫理に関する国民的議論を巻き起こした。

客観主義の専門家として国際的に知られ、アイン・ランドとその思想、作品について広く講演を行っている。の映画化ではコンサルタントを務めた。 アトラス・シュラッグドの編集者であり アトラス・シュラッグド小説、映画、哲学.



"Concepts and Natures:A Commentary onThe Realist Turn(by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl)," Reason Papers 42, no.1, (Summer 2021); 近著のレビューで、概念の存在論と認識論への深掘りが含まれています。






The Party of Modernity, Cato Policy Report, May/June 2003; andNavigator, Nov 2003; プレモダン、モダン(啓蒙主義)、ポストモダンの文化的分裂に関する論文として広く引用されている。

"I Don't Have To"(IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) と "I Can and I Will"(The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011): 個人として自分の人生をコントロールすることを現実化するためのコンパニオン作品です。