Christopher Johnson

Profie photo of Christopher Johnson

Associate Professor

Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Alberta

cjohnson [at] (Replace "[at]" with "@")
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  • Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Alberta

After completing my Masters degree writing a thesis in metaethics on the possibility of moral dilemmas, I spent a year traveling before moving to western Canada to do my Ph.D. at the University of Alberta. In addition to completing course work, I wrote comprehensive examinations in ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of religion. My doctoral dissertation was at the intersection of ethical and political theory, examining Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach to social and distributive justice, and critiquing the justification of her theory as a political liberalism. Though still interested in political and ethical ideas, the lens of this interest has now shifted to focus on issues that that arise in the philosophy of sport.

Message to Students

A liberal education is predicated on the notion that thinking makes us free. A simple idea, but one that suggests that the deeper purpose of education is to cultivate a flourishing self. At the College of Global Liberal Arts, this mandate is undertaken in recognition that students’ development today must take place in a global context; that the skills and abilities needed to succeed in the modern world—both humanistically and vocationally, and as members of a global community—must respond to the international and intercultural complexity that defines it. GLA accordingly offers students a unique opportunity: to develop their thought in a truly critical way, and their manner in a way that serves a responsible, flourishing future.

Courses Taught

  • Philosophy Basics
  • Special Lecture on Cosmopolitan Studies II

Philosophy Basics is primarily a study of the history of European philosophy. It begins with an examination of how philosophical thought emerged from mythological thinking, and then proceeds to examine its development over the next two and a half thousand years: its systematization in Plato and Aristotle; the influence of Christianity over the medieval period; its scientific moulding during the modern period; and its postmodern critique in the early 20th century. Each stage of development will be examined dialectically, to see how it builds upon and progresses the tradition. In this way, students will understand European philosophy as a narrative, with each philosopher in conversation with those who came before. The course also includes critical comparison throughout of central themes that emerge in Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian traditions.

Research Interests

Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Sport

My current research focuses on various issues that arise in the philosophy of sport. The philosophy of sport is a growing area in the discipline but remains undertheorized despite its widespread practice both globally and historically. As such, sport is ripe for philosophical investigation. Thinking about sport philosophically however sheds light upon not just sport as a practice, but also broader philosophical themes that can be understood independently of sport. Examples of such themes from my recent research include: the ethical problem of humiliation and its value in upholding social norms; how and why the value of justice should sometimes be limited for the sake of existential values; and our epistemic and social responsibilities in issuing and responding to offensive and harmful speech.

Supervision Information

Previous Supervised Theses (Undergraduate)

  • "Were the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified by Just War Theory?"
  • "The Relationship Between Philosophical and Poetic Love"
  • "Ethics and Moral Development Through Sport"
  • "Creating a Community for Disabled Athletes in Sport"
  • "The Effect of Large Sporting Events on Host Countries"
  • "Japanese Religious Education in Schools: Constitutional or Unconstitutional?"
  • "Are Cults a Dangerous Influence in Society?"

Areas Willing to Supervise

  • Political Philosophy (especially liberalism, social contract theory, global justice, capabilities theory, etc.)
  • Ethics (applied, normative, and meta-ethics); Philosophy of Sport (any area of philosophy intersecting with sport)
  • Philosophy of Religion (especially the problem of evil, arguments for the existence of god, fideism and natural religion, etc.)

Representative Publications

To be added.

Teaching History

I have taught philosophy at both University of Alberta and MacEwan University, primarily courses in ethics and political theory, though also in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of religion. In 2015 I moved to Japan to take up a position teaching philosophy and religion at Miyazaki International College, a small American-style liberal arts college based in Kyushu, Japan. In 2019 I joined Ritsumeikan University, and am currently teaching courses in the history of philosophy, applied ethics, and topics in global justice.