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Lester H. Hunt

Welcome to my web site! 

I recently retired from teaching philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. My work is almost entirely in the areas of moral, political, and legal philosophy. Usually, research that is nominally in other areas barely constitutes an exception. My current book project is in an area generally referred to as "philosophy in literature," but my book focuses on ethical and political ideas in various literary works. I have done a fair amount of research on the emotions, but it is mostly on politically and ethically "hot" emotions like revenge and envy. 

Within my chosen realm, my approach is individualist, libertarian, and agonistic (conflict is good, or should be). I do realize that this often goes against the grain. I sincerely wish it didn't, but this is my fate. What is yours? 

I love to communicate with friends, allies, and opponents around the world, but computers are not among my many hobbies and other time-wasting activities, so this site is definitely on a sub-professional level of quality.  I originally created it using the html capabilities of WordPerfect, but now use FrontPage, which is less primitive.  I update it so frequently, it is really a sort of cross between a normal website and a blog.  So it makes sense, if you are so inclined, to check it out periodically. 

The Mexico Page. Everything you might want to know about my travels in Mexico - and oh so much more!  (Warning:  This is a very, very big page and some of the pictures won't load on the first try so:  hit the reload button, have a beer, hit the reload button, take a shower, hit the ... and so forth.  I really should have made the pictures smaller, bit-wise, but I never figured out how to do that.)

If you want to find out how to do the kind of backcountry travel I like to do, take a look at Burleson and Riskin's classic Backcountry Mexico. It's a shame it was never updated, but at least the good people at UT Press have kept it in print.  They should get a medal for that, and maybe a statue in the park.  It is, among other things, a language guide, and enables you to say all kinds of useful sentences, like:  "I'm tired already, are we there yet?" and "Is there a spring with drinkable water along the way?" and "Are there scorpions (tarantulas/lice/fleas/poisonous snakes/assassin-bugs) here?" and one that I found particularly useful -- "I've been hurt, where can I find a doctor?"

"Only the dead are safe."

--George Santayana

Some Articles (a few articles not absorbed into my books) (You can find a fairly recent copy of my Vita, somewhat messed up by the process of translating to html, here.)

"The Eternal Recurrence and Nietzsche's Ethic of Virtue," in International Studies in Philosophy, vol. 25 no. 2, pp. 3-11. This constitutes a sort of appendix to Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue. I didn't discuss the idea of "the eternal recurrence of the same" in that book, and this is an attempt to fill in this gap, showing how this all-important Nietzschean them fits into my interpretation. 

"An Argument Against a Legal Duty to Rescue," in the Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 25 no. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 15-37. 

"Why Democracy is an Enemy of Virtue" International Studies in Philosophy, vol. 30 no. 3,1998, pp. 13-21. (This article is actually friendlier to democracy than the title sounds. It's an interpretation and a critique of a passage in Nietzsche.) 

Flourishing Egoism in Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 1999, pp. 72-95.. A defense of a particular sort of ethical egoism. 

The Liberal Basis of the Right to Bear Arms (written with Todd C. Hughes) in Public Affairs Quarterly, vol. 14 no. 1, January 2000, pp. 1-25. (Keeping and using a gun is a civil liberty, like keeping and using a modem or fax machine.) 

Is Bad Conduct Always Wrong? The Ethics of Environmental Effects In The Commons:  Its Tragedies and Other Follies, ed. by Tibor R. Machan, Hoover Institution Press, 2001.Do you have a moral obligation to never make the world in any respect a worse place? Maybe not. At least if you assume that morality is something that human beings must be able to apply and follow in the long run. 

To order either of these books, see the first items in Links to Related Sites

Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue New York and London: Routledge, 1991, 200 pp. (incl. index) + xxiii. 

Character and Culture, Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, 297 pp. + viii + index

Other Publications

A Review of McCloskey's The Bourgeois Virtues

Some writings of mine that were part of the U W speech code controversy of the 1990s. This discussion ended with the UW's unprecedented repeal (yes, repeal!) of the faculty speech code at the end of the decade. I think this is all, unfortunately, very relevant today. 

Writings on Ayn Rand Mostly reviews and short stuff, but it’s growing.

The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished…. The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.

-- Laotse

Current Work

Notebook on Risk, Danger, and Uncertainty  This is a collection of observations.  I can't think how I would be able to publish it, so I figured what the hell I'll put it here!

Why the State Needs a Justification  Due out in a book of essays on the debate between anarchists and "archists."  I'm the only author in the book who does not make up his/her mind on the issue.  

Respect and the State  Like the paper immediately above, this is part of a long-range project in political philosophy, which will probably become a book on the moral status of the state.  This paper was written for a "Workshop on Equal Respect" held at the University of Pavia, Italy, on January 25 and 26 2007.

Grading Teachers  A criticism of the current regime of anonymous student evaluations of teaching as a fundamentally irrational institution.  From the forthcoming book on grade inflation and academic standards (see below).

The "Grade Inflation and Academic Standards" Conference  I've edited a book of essays mainly based on papers given at this conference, due out this year from SUNY Press.  I'm leaving the conference page up, to give people a rough idea of what will be in the book.  Stay tuned for further announcements.

Poetic Injustice  A very short version of a chapter in the book in progress listed immediately below.

Morality Tales This is a series of essays on moral, political, and legal ideas in American literature

The Macomber Project Is It My Turn? Confessions of a Platonic Lover.This is a monograph-length work based on the sayings of Willam B. Macomber, who years ago was professor at U C Santa Barbara, where I was a student at the time. Taken down from conversations, lectures, and class handouts, it is another manuscript of mine that probably is not publishable in the normal, print, way, so I am putting it here.[Note: So far, I seem to be unable to get the files to upload properly. Stay tuned!]

Snailmail Address

404 Jefferson St./ Oregon WI 53575 (The best place to write to me.)


Home:  (608) 835-3525 (the best place to call me).  You can also try (608) 332-3166 (cell phone).


lester_hunt at hotmail dot com or lhhunt at

Links to Related Sites

Sites I Use a Lot:

Caricature at top of page courtesy of Kali Fontecchio. 

Site maintained since June 1998: currently (October 2017) being updated.