Joseph Heath, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Joseph Heath's work is all related, in one way or another, to critical social theory in the tradition of the FrankfurtSchool. 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 he has tried to avoid in his work. As a result, there are two distinct dimensions to his writing. He does academic work, which attempts to address questions of normative foundations, and he also does popular work, where he engages in critical commentary.