Philos-L History

The 'Liverpool List', PHILOS-L, is the largest Philosophy email list in the world. The list currently boasts 10896 members in over 60 countries, with an additional 9000 Facebook subscribers and over 3000 twitter followers (@philosl). Created by professor emeritus Stephen Clark in 1989, 'the Liverpool list' has been intrinsically linked with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool ever since.

The list's motto is 'Anarchy Tempered by Despotism'! A missive from Stephen Clark in August 1989 set the early tone:

For those of you who haven't previously used a[n email list]: the success of such a thing depends entirely on the willingness of subscribers to make a spectacle of themselves, without losing their tempers and without going on at quite inordinate length. Think of it as a common-room conversation, with slightly more time-out for reflection, and no problems about getting a word in edgeways. Try out half-baked ideas if you like, or make pithy comments on such half-baked ideas as have been posted already. But the hotline isn't only for philosophical conversation: use it to convey information - both administrative and academic - and to ask straightforward questions ("where can I find a machine-readable text of Philo De Somniis?" "who said that this life is a dream and a delirium?").

Since the mid-noughties, facebook and twitter have provided alternative forums for half-baked ideas, and the Liverpool List is now mostly a place for philosophers worldwide to share information and ask questions. You can track the changing use of the list through the message archive at

How to Join the List

  • Follow the link to the list archive ( You will see a menu on the right hand side. Click 'Subscribe or Unsubscribe'.
  • Follow the instructions (if you are changing your email address, you will need to unsubscribe with your old account then subscribe with your new one).

How to Post a Message

  • Follow the link to the list archive ( you'll see a menu on the right hand side. Click 'Post New Message'.
  • You'll be asked for your email address and password. For your first post you'll need to register a new password, even if you're a subscriber so click 'get a new LISTSERV password'.
  • Once you've registerd a password, enter it and you'll be taken to the compose message screen.
  • Once you click 'send message' your post will go to the moderator and should be posted to the list, usually within 24h.

Follow the List on Twitter

For further information or queries, please contact Dr Rachael Wiseman.

The Philos-L and Department owl is a design by​