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Profile: Thomas Hurka (University of Toronto)
  1. Thomas Hurka, Five Questions About Normative Ethics.
    in Thomas S. Petersen and Jesper Ryberg, eds., Normative Ethics: 5 Questions (VIP Automatic Press, 2007).
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  2. Thomas Hurka, On Normative Ethics.
    I became interested in normative ethics in my last term as a philosophy undergraduate at the University of Toronto. Influenced by a traditional conception of the discipline, I’d till then studied mostly history of philosophy, with a special interest in, of all things, Hegel. But seeing the value of a balanced philosophy program, I enrolled in an ethics seminar in the winter of 1975. I’d studied the ethics of Plato, Leibniz, Hegel, and others in my history courses, but this was (...)
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  3. Thomas Hurka, Satisficing and Substantive Values.
    Satisficing theories, whether of rationality or morality, do not require agents to maximize the good. They demand only that agents bring about outcomes that are, in one or both of two senses, “good enough.” In the first sense, an outcome is good enough if it is above some absolute threshold of goodness; this yields a view that I will call absolute-level satisficing. In the second sense, an outcome is good enough if it is reasonably close to the best outcome the (...)
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  4. Thomas Hurka, Soames on Ethics.
    Though primarily focussed on philosophy of language, metaphysics, and epistemology, Scott Soames’s Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century contains several discussions of ethics. Volume 1 contains two chapters on Moore’s ethics, one on the emotivism of Ayer and Stevenson, and one on Ross; Volume 2 adds a chapter on Hare’s prescriptivism. The bulk of the Moore chapters as well as the ones on emotivism and Hare concern metaethics, but there is also discussion of Moore’s normative views and the chapter on (...)
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  5. Thomas Hurka, The Justification of National Partiality.
    The moral issues about nationalism arise from the character of nationalism as a form of partiality. Nationalists care more about their own nation and its members than about other nations and their members; in that way nationalists are partial to their own national group. The question, then, is whether this national partiality is morally justified or, on the contrary, whether everyone ought to care impartially about all members of all nations. As Jeff McMahan emphasizes in [another chapter of the book (...)
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  6. Thomas Hurka (2014). Many Faces of Virtue. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):496-503.
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  7. Thomas Hurka (2014). Sidgwick on Consequentialism and Deontology: A Critique. Utilitas 26 (2):129-152.
    In The Methods of Ethics Henry Sidgwick argued against deontology and for consequentialism. More specifically, he stated four conditions for self-evident moral truth and argued that, whereas no deontological principles satisfy all four conditions, the principles that generate consequentialism do. This article argues that both his critique of deontology and his defence of consequentialism fail, largely for the same reason: that he did not clearly grasp the concept W. D. Ross later introduced of a prima facie duty or duty other (...)
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  8. Bernard Suits, Thomas Hurka & Frank Newfeld (2014). The Grasshopper, Third Edition: Games, Life and Utopia. Broadview Press.
    In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," said the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop's Grasshopper, a "shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology," Suits not only argues (...)
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  9. Thomas Hurka (2013). Aristotle on Virtue. In Julia Peters (ed.), Aristotelian Ethics in Contemporary Perspective. Routledge. 9.
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  10. Two-Level Eudaimonism, Second-Personal Reasons Two-Level Eudaimonism, Second-Personal Reasons, Anita L. Allen, Jack Balkin, Seyla Benhabib, Talbot Brewer, Peter Cane, Thomas Hurka & Robert N. Johnson (2012). Autonomous Action: Self-Determination in the Passive Mode Autonomous Action: Self-Determination in the Passive Mode (Pp. 647-691). [REVIEW] Ethics 122 (4).
     
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  11. Thomas Hurka (2011). Common Themes From Sidgwick to Ewing. In , Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing. Oup Oxford.
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  12. Thomas Hurka (2011). Drawing Morals: Essays in Ethical Theory. OUP USA.
    This volume contains selected essays in moral and political philosophy by Thomas Hurka. The essays address a wide variety of topics, from the well-rounded life and the value of playing games to proportionality in war and the ethics of nationalism. They also share a common aim: to illuminate the surprising richness and subtlety of our everyday moral thought by revealing its underlying structure, which they often do by representing that structure on graphs. More specifically, the essays all give what the (...)
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  13. Thomas Hurka (2011). Dworkin , Ronald . Justice for Hedgehogs . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. 506. $35.00 (Cloth). Ethics 122 (1):188-194.
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  14. Thomas Hurka (ed.) (2011). Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing. Oxford University Press.
    These ten new essays by leading contemporary philosophers constitute the first collective study of a group of British moral philosophers active between the ...
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  15. Thomas Hurka (2010). Asymmetries In Value. Noûs 44 (2):199-223.
    Values typically come in pairs. Most obviously, there are the pairs of an intrinsic good and its contrasting intrinsic evil, such as pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, and desert and undesert, or getting what one deserves and getting its opposite. But in more complex cases there can be contrasting pairs with the same value. Thus, virtue has the positive form of benevolent pleasure in another’s pleasure and the negative form of compassionate pain for his pain, while desert has the (...)
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  16. Thomas Hurka (2010). Right Act, Virtuous Motive. In Heather D. Battaly (ed.), Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic. Wiley-Blackwell. 58-72.
    Abstract: The concepts of virtue and right action are closely connected, in that we expect people with virtuous motives to at least often act rightly. Two well-known views explain this connection by defining one of the concepts in terms of the other. Instrumentalists about virtue identify virtuous motives as those that lead to right acts; virtue-ethicists identify right acts as those that are or would be done from virtuous motives. This essay outlines a rival explanation, based on the "higher-level" account (...)
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  17. Thomas Hurka (2010). The Best Things in Life: A Guide to What Really Matters. Oxford University Press.
    Feeling good: four ways -- Finding that feeling -- The place of pleasure -- Knowing what's what -- Making things happen -- Being good -- Love and friendship -- Putting it together.
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  18. Thomas Hurka (2010). Underivative Duty: Prichard on Moral Obligation. Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (2):111-134.
    20 century. But this common picture of Prichard underestimates his place in the history of ethics, which I believe is central. This is not because he defended completely distinctive ideas; his most important views were shared by other philosophers of his period, from Henry Sidgwick to A.C. Ewing. But it is often Prichard who stated those views most forcefully and defended them best. These views can be summarized in a slogan Prichard himself did not use: “duty is underivative.” But the (...)
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  19. Daniel Y. Elstein & Thomas Hurka (2009). From Thick to Thin: Two Moral Reduction Plans. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (4):pp. 515-535.
    Many philosophers of the last century thought all moral judgments can be expressed using a few basic concepts — what are today called ‘thin’ moral concepts such as ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘right,’ and ‘wrong.’ This was the view, fi rst, of the non-naturalists whose work dominated the early part of the century, including Henry Sidgwick, G.E. Moore, W.D. Ross, and C.D. Broad. Some of them recognized only one basic concept, usually either ‘ought’ or ‘good’; others thought there were two. But they (...)
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  20. Thomas Hurka (2009). Review of Raymond Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (1).
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  21. Thomas Hurka (2009). The Consequences of War. In N. Ann Davis, Richard Keshen & Jeff McMahan (eds.), Ethics and Humanity: Themes From the Philosophy of Jonathan Glover. Oxford University Press.
    to appear in N. Ann Davis, Richard Keshen, and Jeff McMahan, eds., Ethics and Humanity: Themes From the Writing of Jonathan Glover (New York: Oxford University Press).
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  22. Thomas Hurka, Moore's Moral Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica of 1903 is often considered a revolutionary work that set a new agenda for 20 th-century ethics. This historical view is hard to sustain, however. In metaethics Moore's non naturalist position was close to that defended by Henry Sidgwick and other late..
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  23. Thomas Hurka (2008). Proportionality and Necessity. In Larry May & Emily Crookston (eds.), War: Essays in Political Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
    to appear in Larry May, ed., War and Political Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
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  24. Thomas Hurka (2008). Éticas teleológicas. Critica.
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  25. Thomas Hurka (2007). Liability and Just Cause. Ethics and International Affairs 21 (2):199–218.
    in just war theory that is revisionist and even, as he says, “heretical.” Moreover, the general tendency of his revisions is to make the theory less permissive, or less likely to approve the use of military force. In this paper I defend a standard, more permissive version of just war theory against his revisions.
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  26. Thomas Hurka (2007). Nietzsche : Perfectionist. In Brian Leiter & Neil Sinhababu (eds.), Nietzsche and Morality. Oxford University Press. 9--31.
    Nietzsche is often regarded as a paradigmatically anti-theoretical philosopher. Bernard Williams has said that Nietzsche is so far from being a theorist that his text “is booby-trapped not only against recovering theory from it, but, in many cases, against any systematic exegesis that assimilates it to theory.”1 Many would apply this view especially to Nietzsche’s moral philosophy. They would say that even when he is making positive normative claims, as against just criticizing existing morality, his claims have neither the content (...)
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  27. Thomas Hurka (2006). A Kantian Theory of Welfare? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 130 (3):603 - 617.
    Two main foundations have been proposed for the side-constraints that deontologists think make it sometimes wrong to do what will have the best effects. Thomist views agree with consequentialism that the bearers of value are always states of affairs, but hold that alongside the duty to promote good states are stronger duties not to choose against them.1 Kantian views locate the relevant values in persons, saying it is respect for persons rather than for any state that makes it wrong to (...)
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  28. Thomas Hurka (2006). Games and the Good. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (1):217-235.
    Our societies attach considerable value to excellence in sports. In Canada hockey players are named to the highest level of the Order of Canada; in Britain footballers and cricketers are made MBE and even knighted. And this attitude extends more widely. Sports are a subclass of the wider category of games, and we similarly admire those who excel in non-athletic games such as chess, bridge, and even Scrabble.
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  29. Thomas Hurka (2006). I–Thomas Hurka. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 80 (1):217–235.
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  30. Thomas Hurka (2006). Review: A Kantian Theory of Welfare? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 130 (3):603 - 617.
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  31. Thomas Hurka (2006). Value and Friendship: A More Subtle View. Utilitas 18 (3):232-242.
    T. M. Scanlon has cited the value of friendship in arguing against a ‘teleological’ view of value which says that value inheres only in states of affairs and demands only that we promote it. This article argues that, whatever the teleological view's final merits, the case against it cannot be made on the basis of friendship. The view can capture Scanlon's claims about friendship if it holds, as it can consistently with its basic ideas, that (i) friendship is a higher-level (...)
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  32. Thomas Hurka (2006). Virtuous Act, Virtuous Dispositions. Analysis 66 (289):69–76.
    Everyday moral thought uses the concepts of virtue and vice at two different levels. At what I will call a global level it applies these concepts to persons or to stable character traits or dispositions. Thus we may say that a person is brave or has a standing trait of generosity or malice. But we also apply these concepts more locally, to specific acts or mental states such as occurrent desires or feelings. Thus we may say that a particular act (...)
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  33. Thomas Hurka (2006). Value Theory. In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press. 357--379.
  34. Thomas Hurka (2005). Proportionality in the Morality of War. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):34–66.
  35. Bernard Suits & Thomas Hurka (2005). The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. Broadview Press.
    In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. "Nonsense," says the sensible Bernard Suits: "playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central (...)
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  36. Thomas Hurka (2004). Normative Ethics: Back to the Future. In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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  37. Bruce Ackerman, Richard J. Arneson, Ronald Dworkin, Gerald F. Gaus, Kent Greenawalt, Vinit Haksar, Thomas Hurka, George Klosko, Charles Larmore, Stephen Macedo, Thomas Nagel, John Rawls, Joseph Raz & George Sher (2003). Perfectionism and Neutrality: Essays in Liberal Theory. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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  38. Thomas Hurka (2003). Desert: Individualistic and Holistic. In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Desert and Justice. Oxford University Press. 45--45.
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  39. Thomas Hurka (2003). Moore in the Middle. Ethics 113 (3):599-628.
    The rhetoric of Principia Ethica, as of not a few philosophy books, is that of the clean break. Moore claims that the vast majority of previous writing on ethics has been misguided and that an entirely new start is needed. In its time, however, the book’s claims to novelty were widely disputed. Reviews in Mind, Ethics, and The Journal of Philosophy applauded the clarity of Moore’s criticisms of Mill, Spencer, and others, but said they were “not altogether original,” had for (...)
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  40. Thomas Hurka (2003). Virtue, Vice, and Value. OUP USA.
    What are virtue and vice, and how do they relate to other moral properties such as goodness and rightness? Thomas Hurka defends a distinctive perfectionist view according to which the virtues are higher-level intrinsic goods, ones that involve morally appropriate attitudes to other, independent goods and evils. He develops this highly original view in detail and argues for its superiority over rival views, including those given by virtue ethics.
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  41. Thomas Hurka (2002). Capability, Functioning, and Perfectionism. Apeiron 35 (4):137-162.
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  42. Thomas Hurka (2001). Liberalism, Perfectionism and Restraint. Steven Wall. Mind 110 (439):878-881.
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  43. Thomas Hurka (2001). The Common Structure of Virtue and Desert. Ethics 112 (1):6-31.
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  44. Thomas Hurka (2001). Vices as Higher-Level Evils. Utilitas 13 (02):195-212.
    This paper sketches an account of the intrinsic goodness of virtue and intrinsic evil of vice that can fit within a consequentialist framework. This treats the virtues and vices as higher-level intrinsic values, ones that consist in, respectively, appropriate and inappropriate attitudes to other, lower-level values. After presenting the main general features of the account, the paper illustrates its strengths by showing how it illuminates a series of particular vices. In the course of doing so, it distinguishes between the categories (...)
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  45. Thomas Hurka (1999). The Three Faces of Flourishing. Social Philosophy and Policy 16 (01):44-.
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  46. Thomas Hurka (1998). Book Review: Sher, Beyond Neutrality. [REVIEW] In Stephen Everson (ed.), Ethics. Cambridge University Press. 109--190.
     
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  47. Thomas Hurka (1998). How Great a Good is Virtue? Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):181-203.
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  48. Thomas Hurka (1998). Two Kinds of Organic Unity. Journal of Ethics 2 (4):299-320.
    This paper distinguishes two interpretations of G. E. Moore''s principle of organic unities, which says that the intrinsic value of a whole need not equal the sum of the intrinsic values its parts would have outside it. A holistic interpretation, which was Moore''s own, says that parts retain their values when they enter a whole but that there can be an additional value in the whole as a whole that must be added to them. The conditionality interpretation, which has been (...)
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  49. Thomas Hurka (1998). George Sher, Beyond Neutrality: Perfectionism and Politics:Beyond Neutrality: Perfectionism and Politics. Ethics 109 (1):187-190.
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