John E. Thomas

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John Edward Thomas

John Edward Thomas (9 April 1926 – 14 October 1996) was a Canadian philosopher and pioneer of medical ethics in Canada.[1] [2]

From 1960 to 1991 Thomas was faculty in the Department of Philosophy at McMaster University. His second year Philosophy (2D3) 3 credit course, Medical Ethics and Human Life, was very successful with thousands having taken the class. Topics included abortion, euthanasia, consent and medical experimentation. Philosophical paradigms included J.S. Mill's utilitarianism, Kant's universalizability, W.D. Ross's ranking system of prima-facia duties. From 1985 to 1991 he was also Adjunct Professor of Medicine at McMaster University's Faculty of Health Sciences. He was a columnist for The Canadian Doctor from 1986 to 1988, and a columnist for Canadian Family Physician from 1991 to 1996.

Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales in 1926 John Thomas moved to Birmingham, England with his parents David Llewlyn Thomas and Ann Olwyn Thomas where he worked for two years at the B.S.A. Thomas moved to Scotland to enter the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, Scotland and there met Moreen Duff Muir, daughter of noted Scottish herbalist William C. Muir and Jeanne Duff. Thomas married Moreen Muir in 1947 and emigrated to Canada where he settled in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada. In 1949 their first child, David William Thomas was born. John Thomas completed entered high school in St. Catharines, completed his grade 13 curriculum and then enrolled at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in a Bachelor of Arts program. The Thomas family moved to Toronto in 1950 where John Thomas took the pastorship of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Burnhamthorpe Road, in Etobicoke, Ontario. Their second child, Ian Campbell Thomas was born in 1950. Thomas was the pastor at Ebenezer while he completed his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity at McMaster University. In 1954 the Thomas family immigrated to the US, where John Thomas won a scholarship at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in the masters program in Philosophy. John Thomas completed the Masters Program and the Doctorate Program (PhD) at Duke University in 1960. In 1960 the Thomas family returned to Hamilton, Ontario where John Thomas accepted an assistant professorship at the Department of Philosophy at McMaster University. Thomas lectured at McMaster until his retirement in 1993.

He is the father of actor and comedian Dave Thomas and musician Ian Thomas.


  • Russell in Review (Publisher: Hakkert & Company Toronto 1976)
  • Matters of life and Death (Publisher: Samuel Stevens, Toronto 1978) [3]
  • Musings on the Meno (Publisher: Martinus Nijhoff 1980)
  • Well and Good (Publisher: Broadview Press 1987).[4]


  1. ^ Canada's Who's Who, 1996 Edition. Pub. University of Toronto Press
  2. ^ "THOMAS, John E." Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^

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