John Finnis

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John Mitchell Finnis AC CBE KC (Hon) FBA (born 28 July 1940) is an Australian legal philosopher and jurist specializing in jurisprudence and the philosophy of law. He is an original interpreter of Aristotle and Aquinas, and counts Germain Grisez as a major influence and collaborator.[2] He has made contributions to epistemology, metaphysics, and moral philosophy.

Quick facts: John Finnis AC CBE KC (Hon) FBA, Born, Alma&n...
John Finnis

Finnis on the television discussion programme After Dark in 1987
John Mitchell Finnis

(1940-07-28) 28 July 1940 (age 83)
Alma materUniversity of Adelaide (LLB)
University of Oxford (DPhil)
Notable workNatural Law and Natural Rights (1980, 2011)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Natural law theory
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
ThesisThe idea of judicial power, with special reference to Australian law (1965)
Doctoral advisorH. L. A. Hart
Doctoral studentsNeil Gorsuch[1]
Robert P. George
Main interests
Philosophy of law
Political theory
Philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Criticism of legal positivism

Finnis was Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1989 to 2010, where he is now Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy Emeritus. He is also the Biolchini Family Professor of Law, emeritus,[3] at Notre Dame Law School and a Permanent Senior Distinguished Research Fellow at Notre Dame's de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.[4] He acted as adviser to several Australian State governments, especially Queensland and Western Australia, mostly on the States' relations with the federal Government and with the United Kingdom.

His practice at the English Bar saw him in cases in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal. He is a member of Gray's Inn. He was appointed an honorary Queen's Counsel in 2017.[5] In the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours for Australia, Finnis was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, the country's highest civilian honour, for his eminent service as a jurist and legal scholar.[6] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to legal scholarship.[7]

He has supervised several doctoral students including Neil Gorsuch, Justice Susan Kenny of the Federal Court of Australia, Robert P. George of Princeton University, and John Keown of Georgetown University. In 2013 George and Keown summarised some of Finnis's media work as "He has, for example, debated embryo research with Mary Warnock on BBC's Newsnight and with Jonathan Glover in the Channel 4 Debate; discussed euthanasia with a leading Dutch euthanasiast on the same channel's After Dark, and written on eugenic abortion in The Sunday Telegraph".[citation needed]

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