John Hospers

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John Hospers
File:John Hospers.jpg
Personal details
Born (1918-06-09)June 9, 1918
Pella, Iowa
Died June 12, 2011(2011-06-12) (aged 93)
Los Angeles, California
Political party Libertarian
Profession Academician

John Hospers (June 9, 1918 – June 12, 2011)[1] was an American philosopher and politician. In 1972 he became the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and was the only minor party candidate to receive an electoral vote in that year's U.S. Presidential election.[2]

Education and career

Born in Pella, Iowa, Hospers graduated from Central College. Hospers earned advanced degrees from the University of Iowa and Columbia University. He conducted research, wrote, and taught in areas of philosophy, including aesthetics and ethics. He taught philosophy at Brooklyn College and at the University of Southern California, where for many years he was chairman of the philosophy department and professor emeritus.[3]

In 2002, an hour-long video about Hospers' life, work, and philosophy was released by the Liberty Fund of Indianapolis, as part of its Classics of Liberty series.[4]


Hospers' books include: Meaning and Truth in the Arts (1946), Introductory Readings in Aesthetics (1969), Artistic Expression (1971), Libertarianism – A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow (1971), Understanding the Arts (1982), Law and the Market (1985), Human Conduct (now in its 3rd edition, 1995), and An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis (now in the 4th edition, 1996).[5] He was editor of three anthologies, and contributed to books edited by others. He wrote more than 100 articles in various scholarly and popular journals.[6]

Hospers was editor of The Personalist (1968–1982) and The Monist (1982–1992),[5] and was a senior editor at Liberty magazine.[7]

Friendship with Ayn Rand

During the period he taught philosophy at Brooklyn College, Hospers was much interested in Objectivism. He appeared on radio shows with Ayn Rand, and devoted considerable attention to her ideas in his ethics textbook Human Conduct.[8]

According to Rand's biographer, Barbara Branden, Hospers met Rand when she addressed the student body at Brooklyn College. They became friends, and had lengthy philosophical conversations. Rand's discussions with Hospers contributed to her decision to write nonfiction. Hospers read Atlas Shrugged (1957), which he considered an aesthetic triumph.[9] Hospers also became convinced of the validity of Rand's moral and political views, but disagreed with her about issues of epistemology, the subject of their extensive correspondence.[10] Rand broke with Hospers after he criticized her talk on "Art as Sense of Life," before the American Society of Aesthetics at Harvard.[11]

1972 presidential candidacy

In the 1972 U.S. Presidential election, Hospers and Tonie Nathan were the first presidential and vice-presidential nominees, respectively, of the newly formed Libertarian Party.[5] The Libertarian Party was poorly organized, and Hospers and Nathan managed to get on the ballot in only two states[12] (Washington and Colorado), receiving 3,674 popular votes.[13] They received one electoral vote from faithless elector Roger MacBride, a Republican from Virginia, resulting in Nathan becoming the first woman to receive an electoral vote in a United States presidential election.[12][14]

See also


  1. "John Hospers, first Libertarian presidential nominee, dies at 93". Libertarian Party (press release). June 13, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Walker, Jesse (June 13th, 2011) "John Hospers, RIP", Reason Online. Retrieved June 14th, 2011.
  3. "Who Is John Hospers? First Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate (1972)",
  4. John Hospers: The Intellectual Portrait Series, Liberty Fund.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  6. White, James E. (2005). Contemporary Moral Problems. Cengage Learning. p. 321. ISBN 9780534584306. External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Cox, Stephen (June 17, 2011) "John Hospers, R.I.P.", Liberty. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  8. Berliner, Michael S. (1995). Letters of Ayn Rand. Dutton. pp. 502–564. ISBN 0-525-93946-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hospers, John. Atlas Shrugged: A Twentieth Anniversary Tribute, Libertarian Review, Vol. VI, No. 6, October 1977.
  10. Branden, Barbara (1986). The Passion of Ayn Rand. Doubleday & Company. pp. 323–324, 413. ISBN 0-385-19171-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Branden, Barbara, The Passion of Ayn Rand. ibid. p. 324.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dionne, E. J. Why Americans Hate Politics. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-671-68255-2
  13. "1972 Presidential General Election Results", Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.
  14. Doherty, Brian (2008). Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. PublicAffairs. pp. 392–393. ISBN 9781586485726.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
No one (Party not yet created)
Libertarian Party Presidential candidate
1972 (3rd in the electoral college)
Succeeded by
Roger MacBride