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Thomas Hurka
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
  1. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia.Bernard Suits & Thomas Hurka - 1978 - 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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  2. Perfectionism.Thomas Hurka - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
    Hurka gives an account of perfectionism, which holds that certain states of humans, such as knowledge, achievement and friendship are good apart from any pleasure they may bring, and that the morally right act is always the one that most promotes these states. Beginning with an analysis of its central concepts, Hurka tries to regain for perfectionism a central place in contemporary moral debate.
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  3. Virtue, Vice, and Value.Thomas Hurka - 2001 - 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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  4. The Best Things in Life: A Guide to What Really Matters.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - 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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  5. Proportionality in the Morality of War.Thomas Hurka - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):34-66.
  6.  24
    British Ethical Theorists From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    This is the first full historical study of a key strand in the development of modern moral philosophy. The subject is a school of British ethical theorists from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, including Sidgwick and Moore. Hurka shows what these philosophers thought, how they influenced each other, and how their ideas changed through time.
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  7. Virtue, Vice and Value.Thomas Hurka - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):413-415.
  8. Virtue, Vice and Value.Thomas Hurka - 2004 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 194 (3):351-351.
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  9.  86
    More Seriously Wrong, More Importantly Right.Thomas Hurka - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (1):41-58.
    Common-sense morality divides acts into those that are right and those that are wrong, but it thinks some wrong acts are more seriously wrong than others, for example murder than breaking a promise. If an act is more seriously wrong, you should feel more guilt about it and, other things equal, are more blameworthy for it and can deserve more punishment; more serious wrongs are also more to be avoided given empirical or moral uncertainty. This paper examines a number of (...)
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  10. Games and the Good.Thomas Hurka - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (1):217-235.
    Using Bernard Suits’s brilliant analysis (contra Wittgenstein) of playing a game, this paper examines the intrinsic value of game-playing. It argues that two elements in Suits’s analysis make success in games difficult, which is one ground of value, while a third involves choosing a good activity for the property that makes it good, which is a further ground. The paper concludes by arguing that game-playing is the paradigm modern (Marx, Nietzsche) as against classical (Aristotle) value: since its goal is intrinsically (...)
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  11. From Thick to Thin: Two Moral Reduction Plans.Daniel Y. Elstein & Thomas Hurka - 2009 - 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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  12. Virtuous Act, Virtuous Dispositions.Thomas Hurka - 2006 - Analysis 66 (1):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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  13. Value and Population Size.Thomas Hurka - 1982 - Ethics 93 (3):496-507.
    Just because an angel is better than a stone, it does not follow that two angels are better than one angel and one stone. So said Aquinas (Summa contra Gentiles III, 71), and the sentiment was echoed by Leibniz. In section 118 of the Theodicy he wrote: "No substance is either absolutely precious or absolutely contemptible in the sight of God. It is certain that God attaches more importance to a man than to a lion, but I do not know (...)
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  14.  47
    How Much Are Games Like Art?Thomas Hurka - 2021 - Analysis 81 (2):287-296.
    This paper challenges Thi Nguyen's argument, in Games: Agency as Art, a central part of the value of game-play comes from the aesthetic experiences it allows, especially of our own agency, so playing a game is importantly like engaging with art. It challenges three arguments Nguyen makes in support of this view and argues, to the contrary, that the principal value in game-play rests in the achievments it allows.
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  15. Two Kinds of Organic Unity.Thomas Hurka - 1998 - The 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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  16. Nietzsche : Perfectionist.Thomas Hurka - 2007 - In Brian Leiter & Neil Sinhababu (eds.), Nietzsche and Morality. Oxford University Press. pp. 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.” 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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  17. Perfectionism.Thomas Hurka - 1993 - In Thomas L. Carson & Paul K. Moser (eds.), Morality and the Good Life. Oup Usa.
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  18. Why Value Autonomy?Thomas Hurka - 1987 - Social Theory and Practice 13 (3):361-382.
  19. The Justification of National Partiality.Thomas Hurka - 1997 - In Jeff McMahan & Robert McKim (eds.), The Morality of Nationalism. New York, USA: Oxford Unversity Press. pp. 139-57.
    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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  20.  68
    Against ‘Good for’/‘Well-Being’, for ‘Simply Good’.Thomas Hurka - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):803-22.
    This paper challenges the widely held view that ‘good for’, ‘well-being’, and related terms express a distinctive evaluative concept of central importance for ethics and separate from ‘simply good’ as used by G. E. Moore and others. More specifically, it argues that there's no philosophically useful good-for or well-being concept that's neither merely descriptive in the sense of naturalistic nor reducible to ‘simply good’. The paper distinguishes two interpretations of the common claim that the value ‘good for’ expresses is distinctively (...)
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  21. Games and the Good.Thomas Hurka & John Tasioulas - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 80:217-264.
    [Thomas Hurka] Using Bernard Suits's brilliant analysis of playing a game, this paper examines the intrinsic value of game-playing. It argues that two elements in Suits's analysis make success in games difficult, which is one ground of value, while a third involves choosing a good activity for the property that makes it good, which is a further ground. The paper concludes by arguing that game-playing is the paradigm modern as against classical value: since its goal is intrinsically trivial, its value (...)
     
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  22.  28
    The Parallel Goods of Knowledge and Achievement.Thomas Hurka - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (3):589-608.
    This paper examines what it takes to be the intrinsic human goods of knowledge and achievement and argues that they are at many points parallel. Both are compounds, and of parallel elements: belief, justification, and truth in the one case, and intentional pursuit, competence, and success in the other. Each involves a Moorean organic unity, so its full presence or value requires a connection between its elements: an outside-in connection, where what makes a belief true helps explain why it’s justified, (...)
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  23. Moore in the Middle.Thomas Hurka - 2003 - 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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  24.  80
    Liability and Just Cause.Thomas Hurka - 2007 - Ethics and International Affairs 21 (2):199-218.
    This paper is a response to Jeff McMahan's "Just Cause for War". It defends a more permissive, and more traditional view of just war liability against McMahan's claims.
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  25.  87
    The Common Structure of Virtue and Desert.Thomas Hurka - 2001 - Ethics 112 (1):6-31.
  26. Monism, Pluralism, and Rational Regret.Thomas Hurka - 1996 - Ethics 106 (3):555-575.
  27. Asymmetries In Value.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - 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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  28.  62
    More Seriously Wrong.Thomas Hurka - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5:41-58.
    Common-sense morality divides acts into those that are right and those that are wrong, but it thinks some wrong acts are more seriously wrong than others, for example murder than breaking a promise. If an act is more seriously wrong, you should feel more guilt about it and, other things equal, are more blameworthy for it and can deserve more punishment; more serious wrongs are also more to be avoided given empirical or moral uncertainty. This paper examines a number of (...)
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  29.  24
    Desert: Individualistic and Holistic.Thomas Hurka - 2003 - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Desert and Justice. Oxford University Press. pp. 45--45.
    Serena Olsaretti brings together new essays by leading moral and political philosophers on the nature of desert and justice, their relations with each other and with other values.
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  30. Proportionality and Necessity.Thomas Hurka - 2008 - 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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  31.  2
    Perfectionism and Neutrality: Essays in Liberal Theory.Bruce Ackerman, Richard J. Arneson, Ronald W. 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 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    Editors provide a substantive introduction to the history and theories of perfectionism and neutrality, expertly contextualizing the essays and making the collection accessible.
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  32. `Good' and `Good For'.Thomas Hurka - 1987 - Mind 96 (381):71-73.
  33.  60
    Many Faces of Virtue.Thomas Hurka - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):496-503.
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  34.  89
    Two Kinds of Satisficing.Thomas Hurka - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 59 (1):107 - 111.
    Michael Slote has defended a moral view that he calls "satisficing consequentialism." Less demanding than maximizing consequentialism, it requires only that agents bring about consequences that are "good enough." I argue that Slote's characterization of satisficing is ambiguous. His idea of consequences' being "good enough" admits of two interpretations, with different implications in (some) particular cases. One interpretation I call "absolute-level" satisficing, the other "comparative" satisficing. Once distinguished, these versions of satisficing appear in a very different light. Absolute-level satisficing is (...)
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  35. Indirect Perfectionism: Kymlicka on Liberal Neutrality.Thomas Hurka - 1995 - Journal of Political Philosophy 3 (1):36-57.
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  36. Value and Friendship: A More Subtle View.Thomas Hurka - 2006 - 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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  37. Value Theory.Thomas Hurka - 2006 - In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press. pp. 357--379.
    This chapter surveys a variety of views about which states of affairs are intrinsically good, that is, in themselves or apart from their consequences. It considers the claims to intrinsic value of such states of individuals as pleasure, the fulfillment of desire, knowledge, achievement, moral virtue, and personal relationships; the different ways such goods can be compared and aggregated both within and across individual lives; and the possibility, given a principle of “organic unities,” of goods located in wholes larger than (...)
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  38.  25
    Games and the Good.Thomas Hurka & John Tasioulas - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (1):237-264.
    Using Bernard Suits’s brilliant analysis (contra Wittgenstein) of playing a game, this paper examines the intrinsic value of game-playing. It argues that two elements in Suits’s analysis make success in games difficult, which is one ground of value, while a third involves choosing a good activity for the property that makes it good, which is a further ground. The paper concludes by arguing that game-playing is the paradigm modern (Marx, Nietzsche) as against classical (Aristotle) value: since its goal is intrinsically (...)
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  39.  40
    Aristotle on Virtue.Thomas Hurka - 2013 - In Julia Peters (ed.), Aristotelian Ethics in Contemporary Perspective. Routledge. pp. 9.
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  40.  17
    Drawing Morals: Essays in Ethical Theory.Thomas Hurka - 2011 - 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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  41.  60
    Virtue as Loving the Good.Thomas Hurka - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (2):149.
    In a chapter of The Methods of Ethics entitled “Ultimate Good”, Henry Sidgwick defends hedonism, the theory that pleasure and only pleasure is intrinsically good, that is, good in itself and apart from its consequences. First, however, he argues against the theory that virtue is intrinsically good. Sidgwick considers both a strong version of this theory — that virtue is the only intrinsic good — and a weaker version — that it is one intrinsic good among others. He tries to (...)
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  42.  80
    Underivative Duty: Prichard on Moral Obligation: Thomas Hurka.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (2):111-134.
    This paper examines H.A. Prichard's defense of the view that moral duty is underivative, as reflected in his argument that it is a mistake to ask “Why ought I to do what I morally ought?”, because the only possible answer is “Because you morally ought to.” This view was shared by other philosophers of Prichard's period, from Henry Sidgwick through A.C. Ewing, but Prichard stated it most forcefully and defended it best. The paper distinguishes three stages in Prichard's argument: one (...)
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  43. On ‘Hybrid’ Theories of Personal Good.Thomas Hurka - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (4):450-462.
    ‘Hybrid’ theories of personal good, defended by e.g. Parfit, Wolf, and Kagan, equate it, not with a subjective state such as pleasure on its own, nor with an objective state such as knowledge on its own, but with a whole that supposedly combines the two. These theories apply Moore's principle of organic unities, which says the value of a whole needn't equal the sum of the values its parts would have by themselves. This allows them, defenders say, to combine the (...)
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  44. Common Themes From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka - 2011 - In Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing. Oxford University Press.
     
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  45.  92
    Normative Ethics: Back to the Future.Thomas Hurka - 2004 - In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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  46. A Kantian Theory of Welfare?Thomas Hurka - 2006 - 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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  47.  38
    Right Act, Virtuous Motive.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):58-72.
    The concepts of right action and virtuous motivation are clearly 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 paper outlines a rival explanation, based on the “higher-level” account (...)
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  48.  23
    On Judged Sports.Thomas Hurka - 2015 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 42 (3):317-325.
    Whereas Bernard Suits argued that judged sports such as diving and figure skating are aesthetic performances rather than games, I argue that they’re simultaneously performances and games. Moreover, their two aspects are connected, since their prelusory goal is to dive or skate beautifully and the requirement to do somersaults or triple jumps makes achieving that goal more difficult. This analysis is similar to one given by Scott Kretchmar, but by locating these sports’ aesthetic side in their goals rather than in (...)
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  49. Right Act, Virtuous Motive.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - In Heather D. Battaly (ed.), Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 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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  50.  41
    Review of Raymond Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics[REVIEW]Thomas Hurka - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (1).
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