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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Christopher Insole

Professor of Philosophical Theology and Ethics & Head of Department in the Department of Theology and Religion
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43939
Room number: Abbey House 006

Contact Professor Christopher Insole (email at

After teaching at the Universities of London and Cambridge, Chris Insole took up his post at Durham in 2006, becoming Professor of Philosophical Theology and Ethics in 2013, and Head of Department in 2018. He has published extensively on realism and anti-realism, religious epistemology, the relationship between theology, metaphysics, and political philosophy, and on the thought of Immanuel Kant. His books include his major study of Kant’s philosophy of religion (Oxford, 2013). Since 2016, his research has moved into a more contemporary and constructive key, engaging with the category of natural theology. He is exploring the possibility of re-conceiving natural theology as a type of negative theology.

Professor Insole is the Lead Investigator for a major five-year programme, called ‘Redeeming Autonomy: Agency, Vulnerability, and Relationality’, funded and hosted by the Australian Catholic University, with co-investigators Dr David Kirchhoffer (ACU), Professor Jennifer Herdt (Yale), Professor Kristin Heyer (Boston), and Professor Yves De Maeseneer (Leuven). The programme brings together philosophers, theologians, social scientists, historians, anthropologists, policy-makers, political philosophers, lawyers, and literary scholars, in order to investigate the use and misuse of the concept of rational self-government, in contested, urgent, and concrete areas such as end-of-life legislation, disability, immigration, trauma, gender, and political sovereignty. The premise of the programme is that the notion of rational self-government does not belong exclusively within a Kantian and secular framework, but can be found in ancient and medieval sources, as well as in alternative modern frameworks, many of which are more receptive to, and shaped by, religious influences and commitments.

Research Interests

  • Natural Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • Thomas Nagel
  • Derek Parfit
  • Kant
  • Realism and Anti-Realism
  • Theology and Political Philosophy


Authored book

Edited book

  • Insole, Christopher & Dwan, David (2012). The Cambridge Companion to Edmund Burke. Cambridge University Press.
  • Insole, Christopher J & Harris, Harriet (2005). Faith and Philosophical Analysis: the Impact of Analytical Philosophy on the Philosophy of Religion. Farnborough: Ashgate.

Chapter in book

  • Insole, Christopher J. (2019). Theology and Politics: the Intellectual History of Liberalism. In T&T Clark Reader in Political Theology. Rowlands, Ann, Daughton, Amy & Phillips, Elizabeth T&T Clark/Bloomsbury.
  • Insole, Christopher J. (2017). Realism and Anti-Realism. In Oxford Handbook to the Epistemology of Testimony. Abraham, William J. & Aquino, Frederick D. Oxford University Press.
  • Insole, Christopher (2012). Edmund Burke and the Natural Law. In The Cambridge Companion to Edmund Burke. Insole, Christopher & Dwan, David Cambridge University Press.
  • Harris, Harriet & Insole, Christopher J (2005). Political Liberalism, Analytical Philosophy of Religion and the Forgetting of History. In Faith and Philosophical Analysis: the Impact of Analytical Philosophy of Religion on the Philosophy of Religion. Farnborough: Ashgate. 158-170.

Journal Article