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RfC on use of "philosopher"

I am going to make the case that we must call Stefan Molyneux a "philosopher" (without qualifiers) in the lead. Don't think of your vote as an endorsement or statement about the level of achievement or acceptance of his philosophy, only that it is the most correct word to describe his career. (Note: Most of the sources I use below are in the article at present. Some don't fit perfectly into the article as yet, but they are important for RFC respondents to consider. We can make sure the most reliable ones are in place.)


philosopher (from Wiktionary): A person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy.

Obviously, each source is going to use slightly different phrasing. Some will call him explicitly a "philosopher" or has views on "philosophy", but I think you should consider some other phrases given below as equivalent. Using one word "philosopher" in the lead sentence covers all of his political, ethical, and theistic specializations in one word, which we then elaborate on later in the article.

  • "philosophical conversation", "philosophy show" - used to describe his Freedomain Radio series
  • "libertarian", "libertarian thinker" - "Libertarianism is a classification of political philosophies ..."
  • "anarcho-capitalist" - "Anarcho-capitalism ... is a political philosophy..."
  • "voluntaryist" - "Voluntaryism (or sometimes voluntarism), is a libertarian philosophy..."
  • "athiest" - "Arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to social and historical approaches."
  • "ethics- "Ethics, sometimes known as philosophical ethics, ethical theory, moral theory, and moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy"
  • "Secular ethics- "Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy..."

There is no objective standard which limits the way a philosopher can work (i.e. its not just stuffy professors). According to the American Philosophical Association: "Philosophers are now employed in a great variety of non-academic fields, as well as in academic positions outside teaching." From this booklet, Molyneux would most likely fit within "12. Media: free-lance writer; executive editor of a magazine; TV producer".

Outside sources[edit]


Mentions of Molyneux by peers in the context of philosophy. There are acknowledgements from each philosophical area he focuses on - political, ethical, and theistic.

  • Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute described Molyneux as "one of the single most influential libertarian thinkers of our times". A link to that video was posted by Stephan Kinsella, another libertarian peer of Molyneux.
  • Peter Boghossian (a philosophy instructor at Portland State whose focus is atheism) wrote the foreward for Molyneux's book Against the Gods? and specifically touched on the issue of Molyneux working as a philosopher outside the confines of academia and praises him for it:
    • "Philosophy has lost its way: Graduate students and faculty research ever more obscure and inconsequential topics; students speak in vernacular that insulates their arguments from criticism because nobody can understand what they're saying; paths of philosophical inquiry are blocked by diversity boards; professors are held hostage to political correctness, etc. Worse still, philosophy as it's found in the academy has become a culture of pretending – pretending one understands arguments one does not and pretending that obfuscation is a sign of intellectual virtue."
    • "In Against the Gods, Molyneux isn't concerned with people's feelings, or about showing how smart he is by using terms few outside of academic philosophy understand, or about being shut down by offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or about not upsetting anyone so he'll have a chance at tenure, or about pretending to know things he doesn't so his peers will show their approbation."
    • "Public intellectuals like Molyneux, unencumbered by rigid, culturally shifting rules and arbitrary intellectual boundaries of academic philosophy departments, are agents of real, profound change in a much larger, much more meaningful landscape. Against the Gods is an outsider's philosophy book, uncharacteristic in its forthright nature and bold in its lack of pretension."
    • Boghossian has appeared on FDR several times and on front page there is a quote from Molyneux about Boghossian's book "A Manual for Creating Atheists". This shows true peer respect both ways.
  • David Gordon (philosopher) reviewed Molyneux's UPB book. While not agreeing on much, I think its safe to say that philosophers don't give exhaustive reviews of books written by people they don't consider peers in the field. The two also exchanged replies, further illustrating at least peer respect.
  • His articles (originally posted to his own blog) have been re-published by libertarian websites LewRockwell, Strike The Root
  • Students for Liberty (libertarian non-profit) invited him to give a webinar - Proving Libertarian Morality
  • Libertopia (libertarian organization) Speakers list - "Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio, the most popular philosophical podcast on the Internet", "spoken all over North America on subjects ranging from politics to philosophy to science to economics to relationships to atheism"
  • "A função do estado na sociedade - Debate entre Stefan Molyneux e Vladimir Safatle" [The Role of the State in Society - Debate between Stefan Molyneux and Vladimir Safatle] (in Portuguese). Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil. 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2014. A Casa do Saber, o Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil e do Instituto de Formação de Líderes convidam para o debate entre os filósofos Stefan Molyneux e Vladimir Safatle[The House of Knowledge, the Ludwig von Mises Institute Brazil and Institute of Education Leaders invite you to the debate between philosophers Stefan Molyneux and Vladimir Safatle] 

Journal and paper citations[edit]

Journals don't typically call anyone by the common name for their occupations. Someone doing a journal article about the Great Depression is highly unlikely to describe one of his sources as "economist John Jenkins" or "farmer Dusty Dryspell". Rather, the author will cite the last name, first initial, source, and date of publication for whatever past work he's referring to in the journal, and discuss their ideas in the context of economics and agriculture. Likewise, these kinds of sources aren't ever likely to call Molyneux a "philosopher"... but context matters. When someone is writing about political philosophy (libertarianism), metaphysical philosophy (atheism), or ethical philosophy (UPB), and they cite Molyneux, they are confirming that he has produced ideas with tangible philosophical value - which is the definition of a philosopher.

Book and news sources[edit]

Independently published mentions of Molyneux from reliable third-party sources:

Other sources[edit]

Less-reliable, but still independent, mentions about Molyneux from various appearances or web pages:

Molyneux himself[edit]

As Stefan Molyneux is a living person, we should give him an appropriate weight and respect as to what he gives as his stated profession unless there is reliable evidence to contradict him (obviously, we don't want to be a platform for any sort of outrageous "fringe" claims). If we are to dispute what he says about himself, though, then we absolutely must have a strong basis for this, or we open Wikipedia to discredit or liability - this is why BLPs are held to strong standards in the first place. This is a case where there is strong and ample evidence that he calls himself a philosopher (something he does in nearly every speech or media introduction) and that he is justified and correct. He is a modern philosopher that explores philosophy via modern online media, which is obviously a very new phenomenon and so its understandable that its different than the "old-school" philosophers we're used to.

  • Freedomain Radio "About" page - "my Master's Thesis analyzing the political implications of the philosophies ", "I have been fascinated by philosophy - particularly moral theories - since my mid-teens. I left my career as a software entrepreneur and executive to pursue philosophy full time through my work here at Freedomain Radio. I have written a number of novels as well as many free books on philosophy." "I am a rigorous philosopher, and I will always bow to reason and evidence."
  • Google+ profile - "Occupation: Philosopher, Host, Freedomain Radio"
  • author profile - "Occupation: Philosopher"
  • Twitter profile "Peaceful Parent, Philosopher and Host of Freedomain Radio"
  • Freedomain Radio (the show that Molyneux hosts) has the tagline "The Largest and Most Popular Philosophical Conversation in the World"*
  • Why I Am a Philosopher video - "A response to questions about my childhood motivations for pursuing philosophy."
  • An Introduction to Philosophy - 18-part video course produced by Molyneux describing basic philosophical concepts (Reality, Knowledge, Truth, Gods/Religion, Ethics, and Politics)
  • 8 Unsolvable Philosophical Questions - Solved! video - "tackles 8 great philosophical questions considered unanswerable."
  • Proofs for God Destroyed by a Philosophical Atheist video
  • 2011 - A Philosophical Review - "discusses the major philosophical, political, economic and social developments of 2011" video
  • 38 Philosophy Questions in 6 Minutes video
  • Many more results within his 1500+ YouTube videos - check title search results for philosophy, philosophical, ethics
  • Molyneux's books show that he is endeavoring to produce tangible written results in the field of philosophy, particularly Universally Preferable Behaviour (UPB): A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics and Against the Gods? A Concise Guide to Atheism and Agnosticism which are two of his more "deep dives" into the fundamental philosophies.
  • Strong Atheism: The Case for Evacuating the Middle Ground article
  • Molyneux's podcasts - of his ~2700 podcasts, 518 are primary tagged "philosophy", 176 "morality", 189 "religion", 94 "voluntaryism", 68 "UPB" (his book on ethics), 38 on "determinism". Most of the others are "conversation"/"call-in" shows during which he talks with people about how to apply philosophy to personal situations.