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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Christopher Finlay, BA (Mod) (Dubl), PhD (Dubl)

Professor in Political Theory in the School of Government and International Affairs
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 45604
Room number: IM221, Al-Qasimi Building

(email at

Professor in Political Theory, School of Government and International Affairs

Christopher Finlay earned a B.A. (Mod) in History and Political Science and a PhD in Modern History from Trinity College Dublin, after which he was a Research Fellow at NUI Galway (2001-2) and Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin (2002-3). He taught at UCD from 2003-7, where he was based at the School of Politics and International Relations and the Dublin European Institute. He joined the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLSIS) at the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in Political Theory in 2007, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2011 and Reader in 2015. From 2010 to 2011, he was British Academy Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow. 

Professor Finlay joined the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University in September 2017 as Professor in Political Theory. He holds a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship from 2017 to 2019 for a project called 'The Subject of Legitimate Violence.'

Recent Media

BBC Radio 4, Start the Week with Andrew Marr: Christopher Finlay appears with Jane Robinson, Fiona Sampson, and Peter Kennard on 'Votes for Women,' first broadcast on Monday 8 January 2018.

Research Interests

  • Enlightenment political thought
  • Ethics of violence and armed conflict
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Just War Theory
  • Political Violence
  • Republican political thought
  • Resistance and revolution in political thought

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Finlay, Christopher J (2018). Is Just War Possible?. Polity Press.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2015). Terrorism and the Right to Resist: a Theory of Just Revolutionary War. Cambridge University Press.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2007). Hume's Social Philosophy: Human Nature and Commercial Sociability in A Treatise of Human Nature. Bloomsbury: Continuum.

Edited book

  • Carey, Daniel & Finlay, Christopher J (2011). The Empire of Credit: The Financial Revolution in Britain, Ireland and America, 1688–1815. Irish Academic Press.

Chapter in book

  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2017). How Subversive Are Human Rights? Civil Subversion and the Ethics of Unarmed Resistance. In Soft War: The Ethics of Unarmed Conflict. Gross, Michael & Meisels, Tamar Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 134-151.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2011). Commerce and the Law of Nations in Hume's Theory of Money. In The Empire of Credit: the Financial Revolution in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1815. Irish Academic Press. 53-72.

Journal Article

  • Finlay, Christopher J (2019). Justification and Legitimacy at War: on the Sources of Moral Guidance for Soldiers. Ethics 129(4).
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2018). Just War, Cyber War, and the Concept of Violence. Philosophy & Technology 31(3): 357-377.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2018). The Deadly Serious Causes of Legitimate Rebellion: Between the Wrongs of Terrorism and the Crimes of War. Criminal Law and Philosophy 12(2): 271-287.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2017). Bastards, brothers, and unjust warriors: Enmity and ethics in Just War Cinema. Review of International Studies 43(01): 73-94.
  • Finlay, Christopher J., Parry, Jonathan & Wrange, Pål (2017). Introduction: Legitimate Authority, War, and the Ethics of Rebellion. Ethics & International Affairs 31(02): 167-168.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2017). The concept of violence in international theory: a Double-Intent Account. International Theory 9(01): 67-100.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2017). The Perspective of the Rebel: A Gap in the Global Normative Architecture. Ethics & International Affairs 31(02): 213-234.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2013). Fairness and Liability in the Just War: Combatants, Non-combatants and Lawful Irregulars. Political Studies 61(1): 142-160.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2011). Dirty hands and the romance of the ticking bomb terrorist: a Humean account. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14(4): 421-442.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2010). Legitimacy and Non-State Political Violence. Journal of Political Philosophy 18(3): 287-312.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2010). Terrorism, Resistance, and the Idea of “Unlawful Combatancy”. Ethics & International Affairs 24(1): 91-104.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2009). Hannah Arendt's Critique of Violence. Thesis Eleven 97(1): 26-45.
  • FINLAY, CHRISTOPHER J. (2009). How to do things with the word ‘terrorist’. Review of International Studies 35(04): 751-774.
  • Auer, Stefan & Finlay, Christopher (2009). Introduction to Special Issue on Contesting the Legacy of ’89: Revolutionary Narratives and Non-Violence in European Political Thought. Thesis Eleven 97(1): 3-5.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2008). Self‐Defence and the Right to Resist. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16(1): 85-100.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2007). Reform Intervention and Democratic Revolution. European Journal of International Relations 13(4): 555-581.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2006). Rhetoric and Citizenship in Adam Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society. History of Political Thought 27(1): 27-49.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2006). Violence and Revolutionary Subjectivity. European Journal of Political Theory 5(4): 373-397.
  • Finlay, Christopher J. (2004). Hume’s Theory of Civil Society. European Journal of Political Theory 3(4): 369-391.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2000). Enlightenment and the university: philosophy, communication, and education in the early writings of David Hume. History of Universities 16(1): 103-134.

Book review

  • Finlay, Christopher J. & Howes, Dustin Ells (2017). Critical Dialogue: Christopher J Finlay and Dustin Ells Howes. Perspectives on Politics 15(03): 830-835.

Edited Journal

  • Auer, Stefan & Finlay, Christopher J (2009). Special Issue: Contesting the Legacy of ’89: Revolutionary Narratives and Non-Violence in European Political Thought. Thesis Eleven, 97

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Finlay, Christopher J (2017). Is Violent Protest Ever Justified? The Conversation.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2017). Just and Unjust Coups d’état? Zimbabwe and the Ethics of Military Takeover. Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace: Ethical War Blog.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2016). Anthropoid: new blockbuster interrogates how you justify collateral damage in war. The Conversation.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2016). Just and Unjust Wars in Syria: the Questionable Ethics of Bombing ISIS. Stockholm Ethical War Blog.
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2016). The Morality of the War Against ISIS: Can Targeted Killing be Justified? The Critique(November / December 2016).
  • Finlay, Christopher J (2015). Terrorism and the Right to Resist. The Plot.

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