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Department of Theology and Religion


Professor Christopher Insole

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43939
Room number: Abbey House 201

Contact Professor Christopher Insole (email at

My work is concerned with the relationship between fundamental metaphysical and doctrinal commitments, and patterns of thought in meta-ethics and practical reasoning. This interest underlies my recent work on the role of theology within Kant’s metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, as well as previous publications on realism and anti-realism, the relationship between theology and political liberalism, and the place of natural law language in the work of Edmund Burke.

My recent book, Kant and the Creation of Freedom: a Theological Problem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013; 2015 in paperback), shows that important features of Kant's philosophy were forged out of difficulties he had in reconciling his belief in God as creator with the concept of human freedom. For full details, see the following:

I am currently working on a further book, The Divine Happiness: Kant, Platonism, Autonomy, which will show how Kant’s view of human freedom, ‘protected’ from divine action, determines his conception of happiness and autonomy.

The picture that will emerge, across these two monographs, is of a thinker who believes in God, and hopes for immortality, but who resists mystery, divine action, and revelation, and who, therefore, is unable to accept central claims of Christianity. Kant is not easily called a Christian, yet he sets out a philosophy suffused with the notion of divinity, which is rich with Platonic undercurrents. I will be exploring the extent to which Platonism is a more common strand in Enlightenment thought than has yet been acknowledged. Recognizing this may illumine, deepen, and challenge some recent influential appropriations of Kant, especially when thinking about ‘autonomy’.


Research Interests

  • Immanuel Kant
  • Edmund Burke
  • Religious epistemology
  • The relationship between theology, metaphysics and political philosophy.
  • Thomism and the natural law tradition
  • Truth, realism and anti-realism


Books: authored

  • Insole, Christopher J. (2013). Kant and the Creation of Freedom: a Theological Problem. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Insole, Christopher J. (2006). The Realist Hope: a Critique of Anti-Realist Approaches in Contemporary Philosophical Theology. Farnborough: Ashgate.
  • Insole, Christopher (2005). The Politics of Human Frailty: a Theological Defence of Political Liberalism. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.

Books: edited

  • 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.

Books: sections

  • 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.

Essays in edited volumes

  • Insole, Christopher (2012). Edmund Burke and the Natural Law. In The Cambridge Companion to Edmund Burke. Insole, Christopher & Dwan, David Cambridge University Press.
  • Insole, Christopher (2011). Theology and Politics: the Intellectual History of Liberalism. In Theology, University, Humanities. Brittain, Christopher & Murphy, Francesca Cascade Books. 173-193.

Journal papers: academic