Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Oxford, where he was a Tutorial Fellow of University College and a teaching member of the Faculty of Law from 1966 to 2010, and a member of the Sub-Faculty of Philosophy from 1987 to 2010. Since 1995 he has also been the Biolchini Family Professor of Law and adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. best known for his work on the philosophy of law and the development of what is often called the New Classical Natural Law Theory (NCNL), based on his book Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Oxford University, 1980; 2nd ed. rev., 2011) and his work with Germain Grisez.

Professor Finnis completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from South Australia. A member of the British Academy and the English Bar (Gray’s Inn), he has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Adelaide, the University of Malawi, and Boston College. He has been served the Linacre (now the Anscombe) Centre for Health Care Ethics, the Catholic Bishops’ Joint Committee on Bioethical Issues, the International Theological Commission, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita. He has also advised a number of Australian governments on federal-state and UK-Australia constitutional relations. 



Richard Ekins, Associate Professor of Law, University of Oxford.


John Finnis, Notre Dame Law School


Select Publications

In 2011, Oxford University Press published a five-volume set Finnis’ collected essays on philosophy and theology:

·      Reason in Action: Collected Essays of John Finnis, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2011).

·      Intention and Identity: Collected Essays of John Finnis, vol. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2011).

·      Human Rights and Common Good: Collected Essays of John Finnis, vol. 3 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2011).

·      Philosophy of Law: Collected Essays of John Finnis, vol. 4 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2011).

·      Religion and Public Reasons: Collected Essays of John Finnis, vol. 5 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2011).

Other major publications include

·      Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Oxford University, 1980; 2nd ed. rev., 2011

·      Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University, 1998).

·      Moral Absolutes: Tradition, Revision and Truth (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1991)

·      Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism, with Joseph Boyle and Germain Grisez (Oxford: Oxford University, 1987).

·      Fundamentals of Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University; Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1983);

On the work of John Finnis:

·      John Keown, Robert P. George, eds. Reason, Morality, and Law: The Philosophy of John Finnis (Oxford University Press, 2013).


Academic Journeys


Academic Journey


Beginnings and Influential Teachers


How have you come to work on such a diverse range of subjects?


On Public Controversies



Faith & Scholarship


On Reason, Revelation, and the New Testament


Life of Faith


How did the renewal of your faith affect your academic work?


Do Christian scholars have an obligation to account for revelation?



Scholarly Research


What is New Classical Natural Law Theory?


New Classical Natural Law: Critics, God, and the Human Function


How does the natural law tradition handle the diversity of moral practices and moral disagreement?

How do we discern basic goods?


How is morality related to basic goods?


How does culture affect our moral thinking?


How does ‘intelligibility’ relate to the argument for God?


How does the natural law relate to the will of God?



Academic Advice


On Teaching and the Academic Life


What virtues do academics need in order to flourish?


How has the academy changed?