Professor Thomas Hurka

hurkat med Thomas Michael Hurka was born in Toronto in 1952. He graduated from the University of Toronto Schools in 1971, and from Trinity College at the University of Toronto in 1975. He proceeded to Corpus Christi College at Oxford, where he received a B Phil in 1977 and D Phil in 1980.

Professor Hurka was appointed as Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto in 2002, and in 2003, awarded the Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Distinguished Chair in Philosophical Studies. In 2006, he received a Chancellor Jackman Research Fellowship in the Humanities and a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue his current project, the late 19th and early 20th century British moral philosophy. He spent that year at Oxford University as a visiting fellow at All Souls College and HLA Hart Visiting Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Philosophy of Law at University College. In 2011-2013, he was awarded a Killam Research Fellowship by the Canada Council for the Arts to complete this project.

Professor Hurka began his teaching career at the University of Calgary in 1978, receiving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 1984; he was promoted to Professor in 1992.

His first book Perfectionism (Oxford UP, 1993) was the first sustained contemporary analysis and assessment of a neglected but historically significant tradition of ethical thought, running through Aristotle, Spinoza, Marx and Nietzsche. Hurka's book single-handedly revived perfectionism, and now contends with utilitarian and deontological ethical theories as one of the main options for normative ethics.

In 1993, Hurka also published Principles: Short Essays on Ethics, a collection drawn from his 1988-92 weekly column on ethics in the Globe and Mail. His third book of 1993 was Ethics and Climate Change: the Greenhouse Effect (co-edited with Harold Coward), a collection of essays examining the moral issues raised by global warming. This book was the first to investigate the ethical dimension of this unprecedented environmental challenge.

He was an Executive Editor of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy from 1992 to 2002, and Editorial Board Coordinator and Secretary-Treasurer from 1995-2002. He has been a member of the editorial board for Ethics, the premier journal in moral philosophy, since 2001. From 1998 to 2000, Hurka resumed his role as a public commentator on ethical issues, this time through the "Monday Column," a weekly commentary on CBC-TV's Midday. His contributions to public life have continued, most recently with the publication in 2011 of a book for the general educated public, The Best Things in Life: a Guide to What Really Matters (Oxford UP).

In 2001, he published Virtue, Vice, and Value (Oxford UP) an innovative analysis of virtue, which rejected Aristotelian orthodoxy about virtue in favour of a conception of it as depending on attitudes towards intrinsic goods and evils. In that year, he was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.