Ayn Rand is quoted:
AR) In answer to those philosophers who claim that no relation can be established between ultimate ends or values and the facts of reality, (AR
The claim isn't that reality has no bearing on what values one should choose or how one should choose them. The claim is that reality does not constitute a completely objective determination of those values. The claim is that ethics is not reducible to biology in the same way that biology is reducible to chemistry. My own approach to the justification of values is summarized at http://humanknowledge.net/Thoughts.html#Axiology.
AR) the fact that living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value which for any given living entity is its own life. Thus the validation of value judgments is to be achieved by reference to the facts of reality. The fact that a living entity *is*, determines what it *ought* to do. (AR
This is an instantiation (or at best a denial) of the naturalistic fallacy, not a solution to it. Yes, it's a fact that a certain category of goal-directed behaviors -- notably reproduction and self-preservation, or more generally, maximizing inclusive fitness for the relevant replicator-- tend to get selected for, and lead to phenomena that are far more interesting than any other kinds of behaviors that could be considered goal-directed. But nothing about that fact deterministically creates any truly normative truths for such behavers. Rather, it creates instrumental truths -- e.g. IF I am to increase my genes' inclusive fitness, THEN I need to take the following actions. For any purportedly fundamental goal, it can always be asked why that ought to be a fundamental goal. There of course is some explanatory insight in the answer "because any other goal decreases the inclusive fitness -- and perhaps even is incompatible with the existence of -- the goal-seeker". However, that insight hardly constitutes the universal normative leap from "is" to "ought" that is the holy grail of ethics. Rand's purported solution is refuted -- not confirmed -- by every suicide. The fact that there are more breeders and non-suiciders than there are non-breeders and suiciders is something that biologists can readily explain as the result of an interesting chain of mindless accidents and inexorable consequences. Such mindlessness and inexorableness no more yields normative truths than does the geometric inevitability of the paths of impacting billiard balls.
Rand's purported solution to the Is-Ought problem can be seen to be radically contingent on our universe's harsh laws of thermodynamics. If in our universe there were agents -- like Christianity's legendary Yahweh -- that were not constrained by thermodynamics to have inherited the usual suite of goals common to all living things, then Rand's allegedly objective value system would just be struck dumb, offering no compelling guidance to such an agent. I'm not impressed by an alleged solution to the Is-Ought problem that doesn't also solve the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma. Yes, I'm very sympathetic to the values that the primate Rand endorses, because as her fellow primate I'm pushed by the same evolutionary winds into accepting those values too. If Rand had been an intelligent eusocial insect instead of an intelligent primate, her methodology would have led her to endorse the opposite of her individualist values. She could I suppose claim that a deeper constant value is just being contextualized differently in the two cases. But again, the essence of the Naturalist Fallacy is to take everything that Is and put a Certified Ought sticker on it. That she does so consistently doesn't make it any less fallacious. (And that it's fallacious doesn't justify putting an Ought Not sticker on, either.)