Joseph Heath

Joseph Heath is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. He has worked extensively in the field of critical theory, philosophy and economics, practical rationality, distributive justice, and business ethics. His papers have been published in academic journals such as Mind, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. He spent time as a regular columnist writing for the Montreal Gazette and Policy Options magazine, and still contributes the occasional piece to the Literary Review of Canada and the Ottawa Citizen. He participates in a group blog on Canadian public affairs at

Heath is the author of several books, both popular and academic. His most recent, Morality, Competition and the Firm (Oxford, 2014), is a collection of papers on business ethics and the normative foundations of market economies. Enlightenment 2.0 (HarperCollins, 2014) is a call for a return to a more rational political discourse. Filthy Lucre (HarperCollins, 2009) is an analysis of economic fallacies and the role that they play in popular political discourse. Following the Rules (Oxford University Press, 2008), reflects on the phenomenon of rule-following and its significance for rationality and social interaction. Communicative Action and Rational Choice (MIT Press, 2001) studies the work of the philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Finally, The Efficient Society (Penguin, 2001) is an articulation and defense of the logic of the Canadian welfare state. Heath is also the co-author, with Andrew Potter, of the international bestseller The Rebel Sell (HarperCollins, 2004), a critical analysis of the political ideas inspired by the 1960s model of “countercultural” rebellion. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Course taught 2019/20:

Complexity Seminar: The Ethical Dimension of Policymaking

The power to set and administer policy comes with great responsibility. What types of conflicts of interest do policymakers encounter? What moral principles should policymakers adopt to govern their own behaviour? The importance of the power of administrative discretion and its impact on the implementation of policy is being increasingly recognized. How should this power be exercised? And what constitutes an abuse of this power? This seminar will consider these central questions while attempting to address both the theoretical debates and practical challenges.


BA, McGill University

MA, Northwestern University

PhD, Northwestern University


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