"The greatest philosopher of the twentieth century may not have been Wittgenstein, or Russell (and he certainly wasn't Heidegger) but he may have been a somewhat obscure and conservative Australian philosopher named David Stove (1927-94). If he wasn't the greatest philosopher of the century, Stove was certainly the funniest and most dazzling defender of common sense . . ."

NEW Roger Kimball explains David Stove's views on 'What Darwin Got Wrong' (May 2024).

James Franklin talk on 'David Stove, Master of Argument' at the Broken Science Initiative, Arizona, 2023 ... Interview, 2022.

For a quick taste of his style, try his one-page 'Helps for young authors', from Popper and After.

David Stove, philosopher
Brief accounts of his life and opinions can be found in his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, in his Wikipedia article, in James Franklin's David Stove, master of argument, in Roger Kimball's essay, 'Who was David Stove?', Scott Campbell's article and Rick O'Brien's article (with reply by Judy Stove).
... his google scholar profile ... on wikiquote ... some hostile comment (2017).
The story of his role in the political troubles in Sydney University Philosophy Department in the 1970s is told in 'The Sydney Philosophy Disturbances'.
His books are

  • Probability and Hume's Inductive Scepticism (Clarendon, 1973)
    (argues that Hume's scepticism about induction depends on the false thesis that all logic is deductive)

  • Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists (Pergamon, 1982),
    reprinted as Anything Goes (Macleay Press, 1998) and Scientific Irrationalism: Origins of a Postmodern Cult (Transaction, 2000) (mocks the irrationalist views on science of Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend, and attributes those errors to their following Hume in thinking all logic is deductive) (See Keith Windschuttle's introduction to the Macleay Press edition; a a review; some criticism.)

  • The Rationality of Induction (Clarendon, 1986)
    (revives D.C. Williams' justification of induction relying on the fact that the vast majority of samples of a population match the population in composition) (a review)

  • The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies (Blackwell, 1991)
    (essays on idealist and other errors in philosophy) ( The chapter 'What is wrong with our thoughts?'; review; hostile comment)

  • Cricket Versus Republicanism and Other Essays, ed. J. Franklin and R. Stove (Quakers Hill Press, 1995)
    (collected polemical essays on such themes as race, the decline of arts faculties, Australian heroes, the intellectual capacity of women) ... buy online

  • Darwinian Fairytales (Avebury, 1996)
    (attacks sociobiology and Darwinian "explanations" of human altruism)
    (Reprint from Encounter Books with new introduction by Roger Kimball, 2006)
    Joe Sobran's column, 2006; a summary; review; another; another; 2008 article.

  • Against the Idols of the Age, ed. R. Kimball (Transaction, 1999)
    (collected essays on philosophy of science, the errors of Darwinism, race and women)
    ( a review; another; another; another; another; another; another; a comment)

  • On Enlightenment, ed. A. Irvine (Transaction, 2002). (blurb; a review; another)
    (anti-Enlightenment essays)

  • What's Wrong With Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property and the Limits of Enlightenment, ed. A. Irvine (Encounter Books, 2011). (Amazon) ... review ... another ... another ... another ...
  • Some of David Stove's articles available online

    A complete bibliography (up to 2000) is available of Stove's writings and reactions to them.

    An account by Rob Stove of David Stove and music.

    Further Developments

    Discussions are:

    J. Franklin, 'Stove's discovery of the worst argument in the world', Philosophy 77 (2002): 615-24.

    J. Franklin, 'Stove's anti-Darwinism', Philosophy 72 (1997): 133-6.

    B.J. Coman, 'The New Relevance of David Stove's Critique of Darwinism', Quadrant 52 (3) (Mar 2008): 58-62.

    Stove's work on induction has been continued by Scott Campbell.

    James Franklin's book, The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal is a Stovian view on the history of probability: it sees the subject in terms of logical probability rather than random processes like dice-throwing.

    James Franklin's book, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia has much about Stove.

    The same point of view informs Keith Windschuttle's defence of the objectivity of historical evidence, The Killing of History.

    And on something earlier, 'The evils of inductive skepticism', by Donald Cary Williams, whom Stove much admired. (pdf)

    Of related interest, the website on Stove's teacher in philosophy, John Anderson.
    Robert Stove, son of David Stove, has written books on, among other topics, the history of secret police and César Franck. Judith Stove, David's daughter, is the author of The Missing Monument Murders.
    For further information, contact David Stove's literary executor, James Franklin, j.franklin@unsw.edu.au


    This site created by James Franklin with help from Gerry Nolan