John Hospers is a philosopher and the first presidential nominee of the U.S. Libertarian Party. Hospers is best known to philosophers for his work in aesthetics, especially his book Understanding the Arts. He is the author of two widely used textbooks, Introduction to Philosophical Analysis and Human Conduct: Problems of Ethics. He taught at the University of Minnesota, Brooklyn College, and, beginning in 1966, the University of Southern California, where he also served as chairman of the philosophy department. In New York, he became acquainted with Ayn Rand and helped introduce her work to professional philosophers as editor of The Personalist and The Monist. In 1971, he published a comprehensive work, Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow. That book and his academic stature made him the first presidential candidate of the fledgling Libertarian Party in 1972. On the ballot only in Colorado and Washington, he and vice presidential candidate Tonie Nathan nevertheless campaigned widely in major cities and on college campuses. They received only 3,671 official votes plus an unknown number of write‐​ins and had their greatest success when Virginia elector Roger L. MacBride cast his electoral vote for Hospers and Nathan instead of Nixon and Agnew. Despite the lack of electoral success, Hospers’s intelligent campaign did rally libertarians to the new party and lay the groundwork for greater success in the 1976 and 1980 elections.

Further Readings

Doherty, Brian. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.

Hospers, John. “The First Time: I Run for President.” Liberty (November 1992).

———. Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1953, 1996.

———. Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow. Los Angeles: Nash, 1971.

———. Understanding the Arts. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1982.

Kelley, John L. Bringing the Market Back In: The Political Revitalization of Market Liberalism. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

David Boaz
Originally published