Philos-L History

The 'Liverpool List', PHILOS-L, is the largest Philosophy email list in the world. The list currently boasts 13,000 members in over 60 countries, with an additional 11,000 Facebook subscribers and 5,600 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

  • To subscribe simply email as follows to 'Subscribe philos-l yourname'. Read the welcome message carefully.

How to Post a Message

  • To send to the list email to
  • Once you click 'send message' your post will go to the moderator and should be posted to the list, usually within 24h.

How to Sign-off the List

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

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