John Hospers

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John Hospers
Personal Details
Birth: June 9, 1918
Pella, Iowa
Death: June 21, 2011 (age 93)
Education: Central College, Iowa
University of Iowa
Columbia University (PhD)
Occupation: College Professor, Philosopher
Party: Libertarian
Website: Website

John Hospers (9 June 1918 - 12 June 2011), an academic philosopher and Director of the School of Philosophy at the university of Southern California, was the first Libertarian nominee for the office of President of the United States. At the time he had written more than 50 academic papers as well as the academic work that would become his campaign book, Libertarianism: a Political Philosophy for Tomorrow.

A friend of Ayn Rand since 1971, he published his treatise on Libertarian philosophy entitled "Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow" in 1971, and secured the party nomination for president, along with Theodora "Tonie" Nathan in 1972. On the ballot in only two states and garnering just over 3000 popular votes, the pair made history when elector Roger MacBride of Virginia cast his vote for the ticket of Hospers and Nathan, rather than the Republican candidate and eventual winner, Richard Nixon. This made Ms. Nathan the first woman in US history to receive an electoral vote, preceding Geraldine Ferrarro by a dozen years.

He was again nominated in a top-of-the ticket race in 1974, but as the California Party did not have ballot access, he was a write-in candidate.

After his presidential bid, Hospers returned to teach philosophy at the University of Southern California, where he taught until his retirement in 1988.

Statement of Principles

Original typed draft of the Statement of Principles

At the 1972 Libertarian National Convention, Hospers was asked to write a statement of principles by David Nolan. After some minor modifications, it passed unanimously.


  • US President, 1972
  • Governor of California, 1974 (as a write-in)


  • Meaning and Truth in the Arts (1946)
  • Readings in Introductory Philosophical Analysis (with Wilfrid Sellars, 1952)
  • Readings in Ethical Theory (with Wilfrid Sellars, 1953)
  • Introduction to Philosophical Analysis (1953)
  • Human Conduct (1961)
  • Meaning and Truth in the Arts (1967)
  • Introductory Readings in Aesthetics (1969)
  • Artistic Expression (1971)
  • Libertarianism: a Political Philosophy for Tomorrow (1971)
  • Understanding the Arts (1982)
  • Law and the Market (1985)


  • Philosophical Studies (associate editor c. 1972)
  • American Philosophical Quarterly (advisory editor c. 1972)
  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Arts Criticism (advisory editor c. 1972)
  • The Personalist (editor, 1968-1982)
  • The Monetist (editor, 1982-1992)
  • Liberty (senior editor)


Once, when asked how he wanted to be remembered, John Hospers had this reply:

I am most known as a writer of philosophy, in such books as Introduction to Philosophical Analysis [1967] and Human Conduct [1961]. But I always wanted to be remembered as a great teacher. Universities, however, consider only a teacher's scholarly works and not his/her teaching ability.

I want to be remembered as a philosophical instructor who could clarify questions and present good ideas clearly, avoiding vagueness and confusion in the presentation of ideas. That is probably my main legacy as a teacher. And many of my students have come to remember me in just this way.

Election results

Election results as a Libertarian candidate
Year Office Vote total %
1972 President of the United States 3,676 0.00%

Preceded by:
Libertarian Party Presidential candidate
Succeeded by:
Roger MacBride
Preceded by:
Libertarian Party California Gubernatorial Nominee
Succeeded by:
Ed Clark

External Links