Sharpen your mind.
Fuel your soul.
Excel in life.
Fight for liberty.
Freedom and flourishing are not givens. They are consequences of certain ideas that were developed
thousands of years and are still being refined today.
TOS-Con is for people who want to understand and act on these ideas, to thrive in their ventures and relationships, and to support liberty on solid ground. If these are your goals, this conference is for you.
Join us August 7–10 for an intense, challenging, and life-changing examination of the principles and practices on which freedom and flourishing depend.
High school, college, or Praxis
Age 29 and under
Sponsors low pricing for young people
* Student, Young Adult, and Adult registration include access to all lectures, workshops, and performances. (Children younger than 13 attend free with a parent.) Tickets to the opening and closing banquets are offered separately.
** Atlas registration includes access to all lectures, workshops, and performances—as well as the opening and closing banquets. Atlases are also invited to a special luncheon with Craig Biddle and other TOS-Con speakers on Saturday, August 10, to discuss ideas for advancing rational philosophy in the culture. If you are unable to attend the conference, you can register as a non-attending Atlas. To select this option, proceed through registration as an Atlas and enter the code JohnGalt in the “Non-Attending Atlas” field. The code will reduce the price from $2900 to $2175 and register you as a non-attending Atlas. (Please note: All Atlases, attending and non-attending, will be listed and thanked on TOS-Con’s website unless anonymity is requested.)
Program: Main Stage Talks
Intellectual Independence: Your Basic Means of Thriving
Throughout life, we engage with, work with, and learn from many people. We befriend some, admire
some, revere a few. All such encounters and relationships—especially those involving
reverence—entail the possibility of compromising our intellectual independence.
Other people may seem certain about a given issue. Their arguments may seem convincing. They may treat their claims or expertise as decisive. And they may pressure us to accept their views on pain of disapproval.
But vital questions remain: What do I think? Does a given argument make sense to me? Is there evidence in support of the idea or claim in question? Is there evidence against it? Can I access the evidence? Do I need to take a position on this issue? If so, why? And so on.
In this talk, Craig Biddle will discuss the process of asking and answering such questions, strategies for ensuring that you engage in the process when necessary, and ways to teach these vital methods to others, including children and teenagers.
Enrich Your Life with Poetry
Today, many regard poetry as boring and best left to highbrows whose love of it is largely
pretension. But in truth, poetry is one of the most powerfully soul-expanding art
In this talk, Lisa VanDamme will reveal how deeply moving, illuminating, and personal the experience of reading a poem can be. She will explain why you may not experience the pleasure of a great poem merely by reading it. And she will teach a simple method, which is rarely taught or understood, for unlocking a poem’s meaning and value.
You will experience the power of poetry to enrich your life, and you will leave knowing how to reap this benefit again and again.
“Democratic Socialism”: The Whitewashing of Evil
Socialism has been proposed and practiced in numerous forms since the 1830s, including “utopian”
socialism, Marxian socialism, national socialism, Christian socialism, and agrarian socialism.
In its most virulent forms—as enacted in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China, North Korea,
Cuba, and Venezuela—the result has been mass misery, mass poverty, and mass murder. Some
dismiss such cases as unrepresentative of “true” socialism, claiming that “real” socialism is
peaceful, progressive, and morally correct.
Many socialists in America today aim to enact it slowly, consensually, and electorally, calling their version “democratic socialism.” This ruse has taken hold already in Europe and is now fast-gaining adherents in America, especially among the young.
In this talk, Richard Salsman will examine the means by which so-called “democratic socialism” is gaining ground. He will also zero in on the fundamental principles that people must understand and embrace to defeat it and to advance the only genuinely moral and practical social system: laissez-faire capitalism.
Cinema for the Soul
Cinema is the most complex form of art, incorporating all of the elements of literature (plot,
theme, characterization, etc.)—plus acting, cinematography, lighting, costumes, props,
soundtracks, special effects, and more.
With its many integrated elements, cinema has the capacity to affect our souls deeply and profoundly. In addition to entertaining us, it can challenge our preconceptions, help us to think more clearly, bring us to laughter or tears, and inspire us to persevere, to improve our lives, to fight for liberty, to love our loved ones with all that we have. Cinema at its best is fuel for the soul.
What are the characteristics of great cinema? Why do some movies and television shows affect us so deeply? And what gems are available that we may not have discovered?
Producer and Taliesin Nexus president and co-founder Patrick Reasonover will discuss movies and shows that he recommends, and several he’s helped to develop.
The Trader Principle and the Harmony of Rational Values
An important moral principle underlying civilized society is that of trade: All exchange of
values must proceed by mutual consent and to mutual advantage of all parties involved. This
principle applies not only to material values, such as food and medicine, but also to spiritual
values, such as friendship and romance. To the extent that people understand and uphold the
trader principle, they can live in harmony. To the extent that they don’t, they suffer discord
and sometimes violence.
In this talk, Andrew Bernstein will examine the trader principle from multiple perspectives, concretizing it in myriad ways and showing its ubiquity in rational relationships. Whatever your current understanding, you will leave with a greater ability to apply the principle in your own life, to articulate it to others, and to advance civilized society.
How Music Conveys Meaning (Lecture & Performance)
Why does some music trigger powerful and specific emotions? Is it true, as some claim, that
music does this without conveying meaning? Or is music “the universal language” in the sense
In this combination lecture and performance, the award-winning entertainer, composer, and lyricist Robin Field will demonstrate how the basic elements of music (melody, harmony, rhythm) can express ideas and images, which can lead the listener to an emotional response. Field will play and discuss several well-known pieces, showing how music can and does convey meaning and why this makes it such a profoundly life-serving value.
Come for an evening of discovery and delight.
How to Create a Career that Makes You Come Alive
Throughout life, you spend the vast majority of your waking hours working. How much better would life be if you created a career you love? Whatever your stage in life, you can create one.
In this talk, Isaac Morehouse will discuss principles, strategies, and practices for creating or transitioning to a career you love. He’ll also address misconceptions, beliefs, and fallacies that can throttle that effort. Whether you’re just starting to think about a career, decades into one, or anywhere in-between, this presentation will help you to think clearly, take charge, and create a career that makes you come alive.
Optimism in Visual Art
Is optimism in art distinct from naiveté, kitsch, or sentimentalism? Renowned romantic realist
painter Bryan Larsen answers with an emphatic “Yes!”
In this talk, Larsen will discuss the role of optimism in visual art, how it influences his choices of theme and subject, and how he aims to affect viewers with his work. Along the way, he will discuss sources of inspiration, the use of juxtaposition as a narrative tool, the resurgence of skilled training in classical technique, and related matters.
Larsen’s talk will be accompanied by examples from his work and that of others. Prepare for an intellectual and visual feast!
Basic Principles and Pitfalls of Fitness Training
Most people understand that exercise is crucial to health, but relatively few agree about what
kind of exercise is best. Even among fitness experts and personal trainers, conflicting advice
abounds. How can you navigate the often contradictory claims? How can you determine what is
really best for you?
In this talk, Chad Morris will zero in on basic, big-picture truths and help you to think clearly about what’s best for you given your context, age, physical condition, and goals. He will address questions such as: What are the benefits of and differences between cardiovascular, aerobics, weight lifting, and body-weight exercises? To what extent should you incorporate these into your fitness routine? How often and for how long should you exercise to achieve optimal results? Is more always better? What’s the role of rest?
In addition to identifying key truths about fitness training, Morris will address various pitfalls to avoid in your efforts to get or stay fit.
Here’s to exercising your body as well as your mind!
The Morality of More: How Advertising Inspires Us to Be More Productive, Make More Money, and Achieve More Happiness
When economists and historians consider the ways in which free markets and corporations have
dramatically improved our standard of living, they typically ignore the contributions of the
advertising industry. And many people today regard advertisements as an annoyance, something to
be avoided or skipped whenever possible. But, says Tim Chermak, these people are missing one of
the telltale signs and causes of human progress and prosperity.
In this talk, Chermak will take a philosophical and historical perspective on advertising, asking: What exactly is this thing? Where and when did it originate—and why? What is its relationship to freedom, capitalism, and human flourishing? How does it relate to free will? What is its moral status? And, most importantly, what’s in it for you?
Beginner Lindy Hop Workshop
Lindy hop is one of the most popular social dances in the world today. It’s also one of the most
energetic, athletic, and unabashedly joyful dances ever devised.
In this one-hour workshop, David Crawford will teach the basics of Lindy hop for absolute beginners. You don’t need to know anything about Lindy hop or dancing at all, and you don’t need to bring a partner. Just bring your feet—even if you have two lefties—and your willingness to try something new.
David will have you dancing in no time. As he puts it, “I’ll take you from no dance experience to being able to dance to a three-minute song while smiling at your partner the whole time.” Then you’ll be all set to Lindy hop the night away at the TOS-Con dance on Saturday.
The Human-Flourishing Framework: A Powerful Tool for Clear Thinking
To accurately assess the moral status of fossil fuels, we must understand how and to what extent they positively and negatively affect the lives of human beings. This is a key theme in Alex Epstein’s first book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. While writing the revised edition, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0, Epstein developed a human flourishing-based framework for evaluating any technology, from GMOs to social media to self-driving cars. In this talk, Epstein will elaborate further on this framework, showing how it can help us to think clearly and objectively not only about technologies, but also about personal productiveness, recreation, rejuvenation, and other crucial aspects of life.
How to Lead an Enlightenment Life in an Anti-Enlightenment World
The Enlightenment was a period during which intellectual leaders prioritized values—including
secularism, individual liberty, scientific research, and skepticism toward religion and
tradition—that gave birth to, among other things, the United States. Yet these values are
increasingly under assault by advocates of government intervention in the economy and society;
by academics who promote cultural relativism and denigrate freedom, wealth, science, and the
Enlightenment itself; and by religionists who claim that the Enlightenment was rooted in
In this talk, Timothy Sandefur will recount the philosophical and political legacy of the Enlightenment and discuss how embracing its core values can help us to lead freer, happier lives today.
John Locke: The Father of Liberalism
In the realm of life-serving philosophy, few have contributed as much as John Locke. America’s
founders stood on his shoulders, putting into practice his ideas on natural rights, justified
revolution, constitutional government, separation of powers, and freedom of conscience. Locke
was also seminal to the Scottish Enlightenment, which would fuel the Industrial Revolution and
vital philosophic discourse throughout Europe.
Jon Hersey will tell the story of the “Father of Liberalism,” discuss his contributions to our freedom and prosperity, and highlight Lockean principles that can help us to advance the Enlightenment and live in it today.
Turning Philosophy into Technology
Why are many tech entrepreneurs rational and knowledgeable in regard to their businesses and
what it takes to build a great company and massive wealth—yet simultaneously irrational and/or
ignorant regarding the political freedom and philosophic foundations on which such
productiveness depends? And what happens when such entrepreneurs discover rational philosophic
principles and inject them into their companies?
In this talk, Tal Tsfany will discuss what he calls the “ought-is” gap (not a typo)—that is, the gap between entrepreneurs’ knowledge of what they ought to do for success in business, and the moral and philosophic facts that underlie and support those “oughts.” He will also relay what he has observed in the tech world when entrepreneurs have discovered the principles of Objectivism, bridged the “ought-is” gap, and put rational philosophic ideas to work in their businesses.
Purpose X: Understanding Objectivism and Using It to Thrive
Ayn Rand created Objectivism as a
philosophy. She called her ethics “the
morality of life,” said its purpose is to teach you “to enjoy yourself and live,” and called
“a philosophy for living on earth.” The ultimate purpose of
Objectivism—and of every branch, principle, and aspect of the philosophy—is to guide you in
living and loving your life.
Yet many treat Objectivism as something else—whether a new set of commandments or categorical imperatives to accept and obey in order to be a “good Objectivist,” or a cudgel with which to beat people and win arguments, or a set of floating abstractions that connect like a puzzle in midair but have no connection to reality or practical application in life.
In this talk, Craig Biddle will introduce a tool called “Purpose X,” which can help you to see and use Objectivism as the vital, fact-based, life-serving philosophy that it is.
Program: Breakout Sessions
How to Launch an Intellectual Career or Side Gig
How can you turn your passion for promoting ideas into paying work? In this talk, Jon Hersey will share the path he’s taken; the advice he’s gotten from intellectuals, writers, and editors; and the principles he’s come to regard as crucial to success. Whether you want to pursue an intellectual career or simply promote ideas in your spare time, this talk will provide you with actionable advice for getting started. You’ll learn how to develop skills, find mentors, leverage feedback, and more.
Finding Joy and Inspiration in Visual Art
Art is fuel for the soul–a fundamental ingredient for a happy, productive, flourishing life. By the nature of the scenes and figures they depict, visual arts such as paintings and sculptures can ignite our imaginations, reveal possibilities, and inspire us to reach greater heights. Linda Cordair, co-owner of Quent Cordair Fine Art, specializes in helping people discover and acquire such life-affirming art. Join her for a discussion about finding artworks that will provide you and your loved ones with a perpetual source of spiritual fuel.
Direct Primary Care: What It Is, Why It's Good, How to Find and Use It
Costs for health care in America are astronomical—and rising—while, in significant respects, quality of care is declining.
To what extent can we avoid bank-draining premiums and still get the care we need? In this breakout session, family practice doctor Josh Umbehr will discuss direct primary care, which he describes as “the free market applied to health care.” He will discuss how these plans work, what their virtues are, and how they can help you receive good medical care and avoid the ills of typical medical insurance.
If you want to stop being fleeced for medical care and, instead, step into the future of medicine, don’t miss Dr. Umbehr’s illuminating discussion.
Parenting With the Principle of Volition
As parents or future parents, we want our children to live wonderful, purposeful, happy lives. As philosophically astute parents, we know that our child’s mind is his basic means of living and loving life. We also know that his mind works by means of choice. Hence the difficulty of parenting. In order to learn how to use his mind, a child must be free to make choices and to experience the consequences of his choices—both positive and negative.
How can we most effectively foster independent thinking and rational decision making? What about when our child makes choices that we know are not in his best interest? How should we deal with such circumstances? Where should draw the line? What principles govern these matters?
Craig and Sarah Biddle will discuss their thoughts on and experiences in raising a child with freedom to make her own choices about everything. (Recommended reading in advance of the discussion: “How To Raise a Life-Loving Child” and “Objectivism and Parenting.”)
In this interactive session, participants will work in groups as mini studios, following the Hollywood development process to generate film concepts on themes relating to freedom and flourishing. With guidance from LA-based producer Patrick Reasonover, participants will learn how to generate a clear theme and begin developing a compelling story.
The session will focus on integrating theme and narrative at the earliest stages of an idea. Group leaders will have the opportunity to stand up and pitch their ideas to the room. This training is a taste of a full content generation and distribution consulting program that Patrick developed and has run at more than seventy liberty-promoting organizations around the world. Come and learn how to leverage film in advancing your values!
Reception, Banquets, and Dance
Opening Reception & Banquet (evening of 8/7)
The opening reception and banquet will be a blast. Meet other attendees, catch up with friends, and enjoy the first evening of the most life-enhancing conference of the year.
Closing Banquet & Dance (evening of 8/10)
Celebrate new friendships, brainstorm new ventures, have fun on the dance floor, and enjoy the final hours of TOS-Con with fellow lovers of life and liberty. (Bring your camera!)
Speakers & Performers
Andrew Bernstein holds a PhD in philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York and taught philosophy for many years at SUNY Purchase. He is the author of (most recently) Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights (2010) and Capitalist Solutions (2011). His book in progress is “Heroes and Hero Worship.”
Craig Biddle is the editor of The Objective Standard and author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It; and the forthcoming Forbidden Fruit for Teens: Moral Truths Your Parents, Preachers, and Teachers Don’t Want You to Know. His book in progress is “Thinking in Principles.”
Sarah Biddle is the general manager at The Objective Standard. Before joining TOS, she taught literature, language arts, history, and math at VanDamme Academy and LePort Schools in Southern California.
Tim is a marketing speaker, author, and consultant to small business owners and entrepreneurs. He is the CEO of Platform, a digital marketing agency and software company, and a cofounder of Main Street Marketing, a training program for small business owners.
Linda Cordair is co-owner of Quent Cordair Fine Art (cordair.com) in Napa, CA. She specializes in helping people discover and acquire life-affirming art from the gallery and other reliable resources. She recently founded a young musician’s salon that provides encouragement and a venue for children to perform in the Napa area.
David Crawford has been dancing Lindy Hop for seventeen years. He has danced and competed at events around the world, and has taught dance in New York City. He also plays jazz trumpet and works as a software engineer in San Francisco.
Alex Epstein is the author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress. Named “most original thinker of 2014” by political commentator John McLaughlin, Epstein advocates a philosophy that is “anti-pollution but pro-development,” and challenges many popular ideas about energy, industry, and the environment. His latest venture, the Human Flourishing Project, launched in 2018. His latest book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0, will be released in 2019.
Robin Field is an entertainer, singer, actor, composer, and lyricist. Field toured in his philosophical one-man show Reason in Rhyme; wrote, directed, and starred in Broadway: A Hundred Years Ago; and served as creator and host of the New York radio series Broadway Time Capsule. He was also editor and publisher of Revival, a magazine devoted to theatrical history.
Jon is the associate editor of The Objective Standard and a contributing editor for Cityview magazine. Previously, he was a recording engineer in Nashville and toured the United States and Canada with several bands, managing various aspects of stage and sound.
Bryan Larsen is an American figurative painter specializing in themes of beauty, achievement, innovation, and aspiration with an emphasis on narrative and an optimistic view of the future. After briefly studying illustration at Utah State University and then Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah, Bryan made the switch to painting full time in 2001. Born in 1975, Bryan lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife Sara and their three children Asher, Pascale, and Esme.
Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. He’s the author of several books, including 11 Lessons from Bootstrapping a Non-Tech Startup and Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth. He also hosts (or co-hosts) several podcasts, including Career Crashers, Office Hours, and Forward Tilt. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.
Chad is the founder of Myogenics Fitness and an expert in maximizing workout quality and efficiency. He’s worked with Mike Mentzer and Dr. Doug McGuff (“Body By Science”). He’s delivered fitness presentations to top corporations and has privately consulted with many executives and celebrities.
Patrick Reasonover co-founded Taliesin Nexus and has served as its president since 2010. The company has produced more than thirty short films and recently launched CinderQ, a literary journal. Reasonover produced the award-winning documentary Of Dogs and Men and is finishing production of They Say It Can’t Be Done, a documentary about the impact of regulations on innovation, which will be released in fall 2019.
Richard M. Salsman
Richard M. Salsman (PhD, Duke University) is president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc. and a visiting assistant professor of political economy at Duke. He’s a contributing editor at The Objective Standard and author of numerous articles and books, including most recently The Political Economy of Public Debt: Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence.
Timothy Sandefur holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, and is the author of several books including The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law (2010), The Conscience of The Constitution (2014), The Permission Society (2016), and Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man (2018). He is completing a biography of Jacob Bronowski.
Tal Tsfany is the president and CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute. Mr. Tsfany has been an entrepreneur, investor and executive in the software world. He has built and grown successful teams and businesses in Israel and the United States. Mr. Tsfany is a co-founder of the Ayn Rand Center Israel.
Josh Umbehr is a family practice physician and the founder of AtlasMD, a direct primary care medical practice in Wichita, Kansas. He launched AtlasMD on September 2, 2010 with the goal of shrugging off the burdens and restrictions of government and insurance regulation in order to focus solely on patients and their needs. He has helped more than 700 doctors adopt the direct primary care model.
Miss VanDamme is the founder of VanDamme Academy, a private K-8 school in Aliso Viejo, California, where she teaches literature to junior high students. After decades inspiring children with a love of classic literature, she recently created a book group app called “Read With Me” to do the same for adults.
Speakers and performers are subject to change.
TOS-Con 2019 will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, where TOS-Con’s group rates on guest rooms start at $139 per night.* The supply is limited, so please book your room using this special TOS-Con page or by calling (855) 537-5305. Please let us know if you have any trouble—we’re here to help!
If you’d like to find a roommate, please post a note on TOS-Con 2019’s Facebook page, which is a great place to meet other attendees and make plans in general.
* Rooms are $129/night + $10/night resort fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
TOS-Con is for anyone who wants to live free and flourish. The theme of the conference—the thread connecting all of the lectures—is that freedom and flourishing are consequences of certain ideas that were developed over thousands of years and are still being refined today. The conference will help you to better understand and act on these ideas, to thrive in your ventures and relationships, and to support liberty on solid ground. If those are your goals, this conference is for you.
A great way to meet other attendees is to join TOS-Con 2019 on Facebook. Simply click “Join,” say hi, and enjoy a warm welcome. You can meet other attendees, find roommates, ask questions, post suggestions, and discover fun things to do in Park City, Utah.
The conference will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, where TOS-Con’s group rates on guest rooms start at $139 per night ($129/night + $10/night resort fee). We recommend staying at the DoubleTree, as that’s where all the action will be. The number of discounted rooms is limited, so book your room early. TOS-Con’s discounted rates apply for three days before and after the conference (based on availability) as well, so if you’d like to arrive early or stay in Park City for a few additional days, you can do so on the cheap.
Absolutely! Attendees are welcome to share rooms and split costs. If you’d like to find a roommate, we recommend posting a note on TOS-Con 2019’s Facebook page, where others will be looking for roomates as well.
The hotel is approximately 35 minutes by car from Salt Lake City International Airport. Shuttles are available from the airport to the hotel, and both Uber and Lyft provide transportation as well. If you’d like to share a ride with other conference attendees, post a note on TOS-Con 2019’s Facebook page, where others will be looking for shared rides, too. The DoubleTree’s address is 1800 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060.
The DoubleTree offers free parking for hotel guests.
Dress comfortably! We recommend casual attire for the opening banquet and daily lectures, and cocktail attire for the closing banquet and dance.
Tickets for the opening and closing banquets (Wednesday and Saturday nights) can be purchased through TOS-Con’s registration page. For other meals, a variety of restaurants are within a few blocks of the DoubleTree, and two are inside the hotel. Starbucks is just a 4-minute walk from the hotel. And the hotel provides free 5-minute shuttle rides to Park City’s historic Main Street area, which has many additional dining options.
Internet access for conference attendees is free.
Information about livestreams will be posted at a later date.
Lectures at TOS-Con will be professionally recorded and made available at a later date. No other audio or video recording of the lectures or performances is permitted. You are welcome to take photographs, but please refrain from using a flash during lectures and performances.
Registration will remain open until the conference sells out. We encourage you to register and book your hotel room early, as space is limited.
If you need to cancel your registration, please send an email to
[email protected] with the subject line “Cancel TOS-Con Registration.”
Registration fees will be refunded in accordance with the following schedule. If you
– on or before June 10, 2019, 90% of registration fee will be refunded;
– between June 10 and July 10, 2019, 75% of registration fee will be refunded;
– between July 10 and August 7, 2019, 50% of registration fee will be refunded;
– on or after August 7, 2019, no refund will be available.
By registering, you agree to TOS-Con’s Terms and Conditions. TOS-Con reserves the right to modify these terms at any time.