Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, at the University of Oxford. Among his present research interests are the ethics of individual rights; the ethics of nationalism and empire; the ethics of compromise; ‘just war’ reasoning; the principle of double effect and the ethics of killing; the concept of proportionality; the moral vocation of universities; and the relationship between religious concepts and moral life. He is currently writing a book entitled, What’s Wrong with Rights?



Brian Williams, Departmental Lecturer in Christian Ethics, University of Oxford, Lecturer in Theology, Jesus College, and Director of Oxford Conversations


Select Publications

Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation (Wipf & Stock; James Clarke, 2014)

In Defence of War (Oxford University Press, 2013) 

Behaving in Public: How to Do Christian Ethics (Eerdmans, 2010)

Religious Voices in Public Places (Oxford University Press, 2009), co-edited with Linda Hogan.

Aiming to Kill: the Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia (Darton, Longman, and Todd, 2004)

Editor, Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict (Georgetown University Press, 2001, 2003)

The Revival of Natural Law: Philosophical, Theological,and Ethical Responses to the Finnis-Grisez School (Ashgate, 2000), co-edited with Rufus Black.

Good Life: Reflections on What We Value Today (SPCK, 1997)

The Hastening that Waits: Karl Barth’s Ethics (Oxford University Press, 1993, 1995)

“A Global State, International Law, and the Containment of Persistent Conflict: An Anglican Response to Pacem in Terris”, in Heinz-Gerhard Justenhoven and Mary-Ellen O’Connell, eds. Peace through Law: Reflections on ‘Pacem in Terris’ from Philosophy, Law, Theology, and Political Science (2016)

“Liberals are Wrong to Write off the West”, The Times, 29 December 2016

“Rhodes, Race, and the Abuse of History”, Standpoint, March 2016

“Less Hegel. More History: Christian Ethics and Political Realities”, Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy, 1 (Fall 2015)

“Imprudent Jurisprudence? Human Rights and Moral Contingency”, Journal of Law and Religion, 30/3 (October 2015)

“Why Religion Deserves a Place in Secular Medicine”, Journal of Medical Ethics, 40/6 (June 2014)

“Christian ‘Just War’ Reasoning and Two Cases of Rebellion: Ireland, 1916-21, and Syria, 2011-present”, Ethics and International Affairs, 27/4 (Winter 2013)


Academic Journeys


Academic Journey



Faith & Scholarship


On being an ordained priest and an academic scholar


Vocation of the Moral Theologian


On doing Christian Ethics in a Pluralist Public Context



Scholarly Research


On In Defense of War


War: On committing tragic compromise and physical evils


On the Principle of Double Effect


On the Just War Tradition 1


On the Just War Tradition 2


The Just War tradition and Christian Objections to Violence


The Christian Just War tradition and current war-making


The Christian Pacifist tradition


On Political Forgiveness, Peace, and Punishment



Academic Advice


How has the University of Oxford changed?


What is your public role as an academic Christian ethicist? 


On bringing together academics, civil servants, and journalists


How should we distinguish between an intellectual calling and an academic career?


What are the virtues and vices unique to the academic life?


On Emotional Survival as a Graduate Student