William O. Stephens

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William O. Stephens
Born10 June 1962
OccupationPhilosopher, writer

William O. Stephens (born 10 June 1962), is an American philosopher and scholar of Stoicism. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Creighton University after retiring from teaching at their Omaha Campus in 2020.


Stephens was born in Lafayette, Indiana and grew up in West Lafayette where he attended West Lafayette Senior High School and began his study of ancient civilizations and Latin.[1] He studied Philosophy at the College of Wooster for two years before transferring to Earlham College, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Stephens completed his graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, studying under Charles H. Kahn, Alexander Nehamas, and Martin Ostwald. He received his doctorate in Philosophy in 1990.[1]

In August 1990, he joined the faculty at Creighton University where he received the Omicron Delta Kappa Teaching for Tomorrow award in 2005. During his tenure at Creighton, Stephens published four books and numerous articles on topics including Stoic ethics, Epicureanism, philosophical vegetarianism, personhood, and sex and love.[2] He has also written on being a Stoic and a Chicago Cubs fan, and on the similarities the Jedi philosophy in Star Wars shares with Stoicism.[3] He presented on phobias, terrorism, and Stoic fearlessness[4] at Stoicon in Toronto, Canada, October 14, 2017,[5] and on a Stoic approach to travel and tourism at Stoicon in London, England, September 29, 2018.[6] He is frequently interviewed about topics in Stoicism.


Stephens authored an influential paper examining five arguments for vegetarianism.[7][8] These were the arguments from distributive justice, environmental harm, sexual politics, moral consideration for animals, and the prudential argument from health. He concluded that compassion, humility, and integrity make working toward a meatless diet virtuous.[9]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4411-2561-3.
  • Stoic Ethics: Epictetus and Happiness as Freedom. London: Continuum, 2007. ISBN 0-8264-9608-3.
  • The Person: Readings in Human Nature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006. ISBN 978-0-13-184811-5.
  • The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus, William O. Stephens trans., New York: Peter Lang, 1996. ISBN 0-8204-3027-7.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Biography". William O. Stephens.
  2. ^ Solomon, Avi (2011-11-04). "Interview with a Stoic: William O. Stephens". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  3. ^ Hanselman, Stephen (2017-07-26). "Is There a Connection Between the Jedi and the Stoics? Professor William O. Stephens Has the Answer". Daily Stoic. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  4. ^ Sadler, Gregory (2017-10-28). "Phobias, Terrorism, and Stoic Fearlessness by William O. Stephens". Modern Stoicism. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  5. ^ "Stoicon 2017: William Stephens on Phobias, Terrorism and Stoic Fearlessness". Modern Stoicism. 2018-11-06 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Stoicon 2018: William Stephens 'A Stoic Approach to Travel and Tourism'". Modern Stoicism. 2018-11-08 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ Sabate, Joan. (2001). Vegetarian Nutrition. CRC Press. p. 478. ISBN 0-8493-8508-3
  8. ^ Gamlund, Espen. The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism. In Matthias Kaiser, Marianne Elisabeth Lien. (2006). Ethics and the Politics of Food. Wageningen Academic Publishers. pp. 123-127. ISBN 978-90-8686-008-1
  9. ^ Stephens, William O. Five Arguments for Vegetarianism. In Susan Jean Armstrong, Richard George Botzler. (2003). The Animal Ethics Reader. Routledge. pp. 201-208. ISBN 0-415-27588-1