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 July 29—August 1 for an intense, challenging, and life-changing examination of the principles and practices on which freedom and flourishing depend.
In the meantime, check out the soul-fueling presentations from last year to get a taste of what's in store!
Scholarships for Students & Young Adults
Details regarding scholarships for TOS-Con 2020 will be announced soon.
Register Now—Early Bird Pricing Ends March 20!
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 1 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 $2,900 to $2,330 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
Do Process: A Strategy for Thriving
When considering principles and practices for thriving, do you find the countless alternatives overwhelming, even confusing? If so, you’re not alone.
Advice regarding success abounds. And much of it seems contradictory:
- Focus on goals
- Forget goals—focus on systems
- Become a specialist
- Become a generalist
- Always say “yes” to opportunities for growth, and many doors will open
- Say “no” to practically everything—say “yes” only to relatively few opportunities
- Choose your future, design your life
- Renounce the illusion of free will—only then can you find your bliss
And so on.
How to thrive is not obvious. And few people truly do thrive in the full sense of the term. This is because few have a reality-based, non-contradictory system for assessing, integrating, and applying ideas toward that end.
Do Process is such a system. Based on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, and incorporating powerful ideas from various personal-development thinkers, Do Process will help you declutter your mind, focus your efforts, build good habits, and transform your life.
Edmond Rostand: Soul of a Romantic, Smuggler of the Ideal
Edmond Rostand is best known for Cyrano de Bergerac, his immortal play about the swashbuckling romantic with an extreme devotion to principle and an exaggerated nose. Rostand had grand ambitions for this masterwork. He hoped that with its heroic spirit and lyrical French verse, it would reintroduce beauty and idealism to the French stage, and more broadly, to French culture—and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
In this talk, Lisa VanDamme will describe how this play inspired her to take a journey that included the discovery of lesser-known and equally beautiful plays and poems, a pilgrimage to Rostand’s exquisite home in the Basque country of France, and a renewed commitment to carrying Rostand’s torch of idealism forward and into our world today.
Ins and Outs of Start-Ups
One of the most powerful ways to manifest your beliefs in the world is by starting a company. But it’s no easy task. The major hurdles aren’t lack of money or ideas, but doubts and fears.
Isaac Morehouse has done it a few times and has the scars to prove it. He’ll share an inside look into what it takes to go from idea to reality and growth, who should and shouldn’t try a startup, the best first steps, and pitfalls to avoid. Whether you’re interested in launching a startup, already are involved in one, or might be interested in investing in one, this will be a fascinating peek into the reality behind the hype and the great potential and challenges in this sphere of life.
Heroes of Philosophy
Thinkers such as Thales, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and Ayn Rand advanced our knowledge of fundamental issues. For example, Thales reasoned that the teeming diversity of nature could be explained by a small number of principles. Socrates recognized the importance of rigorously defining key moral concepts. Aristotle invented the sciences of logic and biology. Thomas Aquinas re-introduced Aristotle’s rational philosophy in a medieval culture dominated by religion. John Locke emphasized that all knowledge originates in observation and taught that individuals have an unalienable right to their own lives and property. Ayn Rand created a complete philosophic system glorifying man’s mind and validating the objectivity of knowledge.
These great thinkers are towering heroes of philosophy. But what is a hero? What’s the value of understanding the characteristics of a hero? And how can we emulate heroes? In this talk, Andrew Bernstein will address such questions.
A Brush with John Singer Sargent
At the dawn of the 20th century, John Singer Sargent was among the world’s most admired painters. The most sought-after portraitist in Europe and America, he painted such renowned figures as Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry James and set a new standard for elegance.
Yet he was also a cutting-edge innovator whose painting Madame X sparked a national scandal when it was displayed in Paris. Within a few years of his death, however, leading intellectuals had come to view Sargent as a contemptible relic of an unsophisticated age.
In this presentation, Timothy Sandefur will take a new look at Sargent’s art and discuss why Sargent came to be despised for his virtues—and why his art is experiencing a long-overdue revival today.
History: Who Needs It
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote the philosopher George Santayana. Today, though, history—the story of the past—is widely regarded as a means of inducing sleep. Among those few who enjoy history, many regard it as a mere pastime with little or no power to impact their lives.
That’s unfortunate because, with the proper approach, history can be a fountain of spiritual fuel, a guide for achieving the good life, and a means to continue the upward trajectory of mankind.
History is the laboratory of humanity, and in this talk, Jon Hersey will discuss how to use it to promote personal flourishing and defend political freedom.
Music and Life
Like romantic love, music is something many people value, yet fail to pursue in a thoughtful, intentional way. In this talk, David Crawford will home in on how music affects our souls and how we can approach it in ways that add greater meaning and joy to our lives.
When you better understand how music affects your soul, and thus your life, you can make better decisions about how to invest your time and energy in music and the musical arts. You can explore music more effectively, listen more actively, notice more aspects, and gain more each time you listen. You can engage more knowledgeably, and thus more enjoyably, in playing an instrument, singing, or dancing—whether as a newbie or a seasoned artist.
Come expand your understanding of the nature and role of music in life. You’ll enjoy richer emotions, stronger memories, and closer connections with people you love.
Designing Your Life around a Central Purpose
A healthy, successful life, like a healthy, successful business, requires a central purpose—a central aim that animates and motivates you, a productive purpose that pays the bills and helps you to profit and thrive.
In this session, Rajshree Agarwal will present an approach to your work-life called My Enterprise (ME) Inc. Using methods and tools of successful business leaders, ME Inc. positions you as the CEO of your life, helps you discover or further develop your “why”—or the central purpose in life—and helps you leverage your core skills and capabilities, the “how.”
Come and learn or deepen your understanding of the importance of a central purpose and how to leverage it to enhance your life. You’ll expand your knowledge of how to pursue such a purpose creatively by marshaling your assets and developing win-win relationships.
The Role of Science in the Industrial Revolution
Did deep ideas in science and philosophy create the modern world, or were they merely incidental? Nassim Taleb argues that the Industrial Revolution was created by tinkerers, not scientists; and famously it has been said that “thermodynamics owes more to the steam engine than the steam engine owes to thermodynamics.”
What was the true role of science—and by implication, of the mind—in the birth of the industrial age?
In this talk, Jason Crawford will explore the links between science and invention through historical examples, from the steam engine to the conquest of infectious diseases, showing the influence of the Scientific Revolution in creating our modern standard of living. His discussion will bolster your understanding of the roles of science and industry in human flourishing.
America’s Revolutionary Ideas: Their History and Future
In his new book America’s Revolutionary Mind, C. Bradley Thompson examines the philosophical essentials of the American Revolution—looking at the founding of the nation not in terms of historical incidents but as the culmination of a series of insights about the nature of mankind and of the proper role of government.
This “new moral history” opens the door for a better grasp of the nation’s constitutional system—and a better refutation of those who argue that America was founded on the basis of slavery and inequality.
In this session, Thompson sits down with Timothy Sandefur, author of The Conscience of the Constitution, for a conversation about America’s fundamental principles and how they may—or may not—impact the future.
Secular Spirituality: The Nature and Nurture of Your Mind and Soul
We are beings of body and mind, matter and spirit. To live a spiritually rich and wonderful life, we must attend to our physical and psychological needs. Information regarding the care of our bodies abounds, but information about how to care for our minds and souls is scant at best—and often harmfully wrong.
Religious approaches to spirituality call for faith in a higher power and letting that higher power somehow guide us in life. Many secular views reject key aspects of human life on which spirituality depends—such as consciousness, free will, or the self.
In this presentation, Craig Biddle will survey traditional views of spirituality, highlight ways in which they are problematic or detrimental, and offer a secular approach to this crucial aspect of human flourishing.
Come gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the mind and soul, how to care for them, and how to live a spiritually rich and meaningful life.
"The Romantics," a play by Edmond Rostand
More sessions will be added soon. The program is subject to change.
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 7/29)
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 8/1)
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.
Speakers & Performers
Rajshree Agarwal is the Rudolph Lamone Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of Maryland and the Director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets. Professor Agarwal conducts research on the evolution of industries, firms and individual careers, as fostered by the twin engines of innovation and enterprise.
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 editor-in-chief of The Objective Standard and executive director of Prometheus Foundation. His books include Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It; Rational Egoism: The Morality for Human Flourishing; 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.”
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.
Jason is the author of The Roots of Progress, where he writes about the history of technology and industry. Previously, he worked for eighteen years in the tech industry, including as co-founder and CEO of the startup Fieldbook and as a software engineering manager at Amazon, Flexport, and Groupon.
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 Hersey is associate editor of The Objective Standard. His work focuses on intellectual history, specifically, the ideas on which freedom and flourishing depend. He’s published in-depth articles on John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Stark, William Wilberforce, Rosa Parks, and more.
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.
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 the author of The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski: The Life and Ideas of a Popular Science Icon.
C. Bradley Thompson
C. Bradley Thompson is the BB&T Research Professor in the Department of Political Science at Clemson University and the Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study Capitalism. He received his Ph.D. at Brown University, and he has also been a visiting scholar at Princeton and Harvard universities and at the University of London.
Lisa VanDamme is the founder of VanDamme Academy, a private K–8 school where she teaches literature to junior high students. After decades inspiring children with a love of reading, she recently embarked on a project to do the same for adults, creating a book club app called “Read With Me” that is dedicated to helping readers connect emotionally with the classics.
More Coming Soon!
More speakers will be added soon.
Speakers and performers are subject to change.
The schedule will be posted soon.
Hotel & Area
TOS-Con 2020 will be held at the Boston Marriott in Newton, Massachusetts, where TOS-Con’s group rates on guest rooms start at $149 per night. The supply is limited, so please book your room soon using this special TOS-Con page or by calling 617-969-1000. 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 2020’s Facebook page, which is a great place to meet other attendees and make plans in general.
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 2020 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 the Boston area.
The conference will be held at the Boston Marriott Newton, where TOS-Con’s group rates on guest rooms start at $149 per night. We recommend staying at the Marriott, 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 as well (based on availability), so if you’d like to arrive early or stay in the area 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 2020’s Facebook page, where others will be looking for roomates as well.
The hotel is approximately 15 miles from Boston Logan 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 2020’s Facebook page, where others will be looking for shared rides, too. The hotel’s address is 2345 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton Massachusetts, 02466.
Information about parking options at and near the hotel will be posted soon.
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. There is a bar, a restaurant, and a Starbucks in the hotel, as well as several great places to eat within walking distance.
Internet access for conference attendees is free throughout the hotel.
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 1, 90% of registration fee will be refunded;
– between June 1 and July 1, 75% of registration fee will be refunded;
– between July 1 and July 29, 50% of registration fee will be refunded;
– on or after July 29, 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.