John McMurtry

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(philosopher, author)
Member ofAmerican Herald Tribune
John McMurtry is a professor of philosophy at Guelph university and a Fellow of the Canadian Royal Society

Professor John McMurtry is a moral philosopher specializing in social value systems and life-value analysis. His many articles and books have been internationally published and translated, and include multi-volume work for UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). He is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.[1]


John McMurtry received his doctorate in 1975 from University College, London. Prior to doctoral studies, he was "a professional football player, print and television journalist, academic English teacher and world-traveller" and a student of Eastern philosophy. In his own words, he

"came to philosophy as a last resort, because as someone naturally disposed to question unexamined assumptions and conventional beliefs, I could find no other profession which permitted this vocation at the appropriate level of research."

He calls 'value theory' "my unifying field of research", but has also published and taught in social and political philosophy, Asian/Indian and Chinese philosophy, philosophy of economics, philosophy of education, philosophy and literature, philosophy of history, post-Kantian continental philosophy, the logic of natural language, and, recently, philosophy of the environment.

He is also subscribes to the Peace Movement and various international law study bodies. He was Chair of Jurists, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Tribunal at the Alternative World Summit in Toronto, 1989. His professional work has been published in over 150 books and journals, including Inquiry, the Monist, the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Praxis International, the Encyclopedia of Ethics, Atlantic Monthly, Guardian Weekly, and the Norton Anthology of Prose.

Political, philosophical, and economic views

His recent research has focused on the underlying value structure of economic theory, its consequences for global civil and environmental life, and the life ground and civil commons. McMurtry considers the global "free market" "inefficient and life-destructive" in proportion to how unregulated it is, and believes systems should take into account "life-capital."[2]

In Unequal Freedoms: The Global Markets As An Ethical System, 1998, he lays out strong arguments for moral purchasing and ethical investing. Any purchasing or investing decision makes ethical and moral choices anyway, by default, he argues, and a market system must by definition reflect the morality of the society that conducts commerce via that system.

Globalization, for example, is driven by what he calls "an unexamined and absolutist value system whose principles and unseen meaning it lays bare." He criticizes capitalist scientific technology, transnational trade apparatuses, NATO wars, and an expanding prison regime as symptoms of a "new totalitarianism cumulatively occupying the world and propelling civil and ecological breakdowns."

Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy, 2002, which outlines this analysis, also explains "the shared life-grounds, public sectors and cross-cultural movement of the "'new resistance'", and systematically defines the moral compass and constitutional standards of a global life economy alternative."

A consistent theme is to argue strongly against any definition of the Commons that excludes property controlled by the Nation-State and refers only to atmosphere, oceans, genes and other "unowned" elements of the environment. To exclude terrestrial eco-regions, he argues, is to exclude biodiversity, watershed, river, and other resources that are under the sole purview of states to protect. This is in contrast to definitions that tend to refer to the commons only in terms of what is outside the control and jurisdiction of the nation-state. This is a major point of tension between apolitical Greens and those engaged in left-wing politics to control state power - one not wholly resolved by green politics which has so far failed to fully control any nation state.

McMurtry advocates a monetary policy that would represent what he sees as the true value system of the society, opposes a North American currency union, and has been a long standing member of the Canadian Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform, which often publishes and distributes his work.

McMurtry believes that the September 11 attacks were the fault of the US government, with the official explanation a "big lie." He compares the event to the Reichstag fire and believes that both World War II and the "9/11 Wars" were organized by multinational corporations.[3]

Notable works

  • Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy (London and Sterling Va: Pluto Press, 2002), 277 pages. ISBN 0-7453-1890-8.
  • The Cancer Stage of Capitalism. London, Pluto Books, 1999
  • Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market As An Ethical System, Toronto: Garamond & Westport, Conn., 1998.
  • Understanding War: A Philosophical Inquiry. Toronto: Science for Peace & Samuel Stevens, 1989.
  • The Structure of Marx's World-View. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
  • The Dimensions Of English. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.
  • Monogamy: A Critique The Monist 67(4): 588-600, 1972.
  • Sex, Love and Friendship In Soble, Alan & Barbara Krishner, eds, Sex, Love and Friendship Value Inquiry Book Series, Takoma: Rodopi, 1995.
  • Education and the Market Model Journal of the Philosophy of Education 25(2): 209-218, 1991.
  • How Competition Goes Wrong. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 8(2): 200-210, 1991.
  • Rethinking the Military Paradigm. Inquiry (Europe) 34(4): 415-432, 1991.
  • The Unspeakable: Understanding the System of Fallacy of the Media. Informal Logic 10(3): 133-150, 1988.
  • Fascism and Neo-Conservatism: Is There a Difference? Praxis International 4(1): 86-102, 1983.
  • Philosophical Method and Rise of Social Philosophy. Eidos, 11(2): 139-176, 1981.
  • The Case for Children's Liberation. Interchange 10(3): 387-412, 1979-80.
  • How to Tell the Left From the Right. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9(3): 387-412, 1979.


Documents by John McMurtry

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:The Moral Decoding of 9-11paper1 February 20139-11A detailed 'tour-de-force' analysis of the motives, methodologies, organisations and individuals behind 9-11 from a leading moral philosopher and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. One of the most recommended summaries of what transpired on that epoch-defining day.
Document:US holds world record for the killing of innocent civiliansInterview transcript29 July 20149-11
"War on Terror"
US/Foreign policy
A wide-ranging interview with Prof. John McMurtry that pulls no punches about the moral bankruptcy of the US globalising elite and its accomplices, allies and self-serving lackies. It covers the US War on Terror project, its military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 9-11 attacks.
Document:War and Peace - The Lost Principles of Science and Valuearticle17 June 20159-11
"War on Terror"
Mind control
"Weapon of mass destruction"
Science for Peace
Financial system
US/Foreign Policy
A wide-ranging critique of the techniques of globalisation and the way in which apparently otherwise well-meaning western NGOs frame the worlds problems in US war propaganda terms
Document:“Global Society Destruction” and The Ukraine Crisis: Decoding its Deep Structural Meaningarticle26 April 2014The Great Game
2014 Ukraine coup
An extended analysis and decoding of the deep structural meaning underlying US-lead Anglo-US-NATO interference in the unfolding Ukrainian tragedy
File:Understanding 911 and 911 wars.pdfcommentary30 May 20049-11
Consensus trance
Iraq War 2003
Afghanistan/2001 Invasion
A guide to understanding the events of 9-11 and the resulting wars for which it became the casus belli


A Quote by John McMurtry

Financial system“The key master lie is this one:- that the politically-imposed (not economically-) the politically-imposed global corporate system calling itself the "global free market", that that politically-imposed global corporate system equals the "free market" equals democracy equals a solution to poverty.”2001Unwelcome Guests
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