Tibor Machan came to the United States as a teenager from Hungary in the 1950s, his secret passage arranged by his family struggling with communist rule and unrest that led to the failed Hungarian Revolution. By the time of his death on March 24, 2016, at the age of seventy-seven, Machan had built a distinguished career as an academic, a publisher, and an author with an international network of friends and colleagues. He was a close associate of the late Paul Kurtz, founder of Free Inquiry, writing articles and contributing a regular column for more than ten years, ending in late 2013. Until the end of 2014, Machan held the R. C. Hoiles Chair of Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University.
After arriving in the United States in 1956, Machan began his university studies, earning an undergraduate degree at Claremont McKenna College (then Claremont Men’s College), an MA in Philosophy at New York University, and a PhD in Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, by 1965. During his long career, he was a research fellow, a visiting professor, a board member of foundations and think tanks, a syndicated and freelance columnist, and an author of more than one hundred scholarly papers and forty books. His work focused on ethics (particularly business ethics) and political philosophy and touched on objectivism, epistemology, free will, secularism, naturalism, and animal rights. His book Classical Individualism: The Supreme Importance of Each Human Being (Routledge, 1998) is considered to be the fullest expression of his thinking on ethics.
Perhaps Machan will be most remembered for his role in publishing the libertarian magazine Reason and the establishment of the Reason Foundation. He and two others took over Reason’s publication in the late 1970s, with Machan contributing his scholarly training and passion for individual liberty and a free society to the enterprise.
“Tibor Machan was Free Inquiry’s libertarian gadfly, speaking for—and to—a persistent and vocal minority among its readers,” said FI editor Tom Flynn. “He was at his best when challenging a liberal consensus to acknowledge other views.”
—Andrea Szalanski, Free Inquiry managing editor