Joseph Heath

Professor and Director of the Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto.

Postes occupés

2009-2010 à aujourd'hui Chercheur-e associé-e,
2014-2015 à aujourd'hui Membre collaborateur-trice,


I am director of the Centre for Ethics of the University of Toronto (ethics.utoronto.ca/), professor at the department of Philosophy, (philosophy.utoronto.ca/), and School of Public Policy and Governance of the University of Toronto (publicpolicy.utoronto.ca/).

My work is all related, in one way or another, to critical social theory in the tradition of the Frankfurt School. The hallmark of this tradition is that of close engagement with the social sciences, but in a way that involves a rejection of value-neutrality, in favour of a style of inquiry governed by what Jürgen Habermas once called the “emancipatory interest” of human reason. In the late 20th century, critical theorists became increasingly preoccupied with the so-called “normative foundations of social criticism.” Rather than doing critical theory, they spent most of their time worrying about how a critical theory of society might even be possible, given the all-encompassing nature of culture and ideology. The result has been a generation of critical theorists who seldom get around to actually criticizing anything. This is a dead-end that I have tried to avoid in my work. As a result, there are two distinct dimensions to my writing. I do academic work, which attempts to address questions of normative foundations, and I also do popular work, where I engage in critical commentary.

Selected publications:

  • “The Structure of Intergenerational Cooperation,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 41:1 (2013): 31-66 (link) (ms)
  • “Ideal Theory in an n-th Best World,” Journal of Global Ethics, 9:2 (2013): 159-172.
  • “Letting the World In: Empirical Approaches to Ethics,” The Ethics Forum, 7:3 (2012): 93-107 (full text).
  • “Why Cash Violates Neutrality,” with Vida Panitch, Basic Income Studies, 5 (2010), art. 4 (full text)
  • “Three Evolutionary Precursors to Morality,” Dialogue, 48 (2009): 717-752
  • “Political Egalitarianism,” Social Theory and Practice, 34 (2008): 486-516

Email Address: joseph.heath@utoronto.ca

For more information visit Prof. Heath’s personal website.