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Claire Finkelstein

Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy; Director, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law

Claire Finkelstein

Claire Finkelstein’s current research addresses national security law and policy, with a focus on ethical and rule of law issues that arise in that arena. In 2012, Professor Finkelstein founded Penn Law’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), a non-partisan interdisciplinary institute that seeks to promote the rule of law in modern day conflict, warfare, and national security. Continue reading…


SOVEREIGNTY AND THE NEW EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY (Claire Finkelstein & Michael Skerker eds., Oxford 2019).
[Available Here]

WEIGHING LIVES IN WAR (Jens David Ohlin, Larry May & Claire Finkelstein eds., Oxford 2017).
[Available Here]

CONTRACTARIAN LEGAL THEORY (book manuscript available upon request). (forthcoming)

CYBER WAR: LAW AND ETHICS FOR VIRTUAL CONFLICTS (Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern, & Claire Finkelstein eds., Oxford, 2015; pubd online Apr. 2015).

TARGETED KILLINGS: LAW AND MORALITY IN AN ASYMMETRICAL WORLD (Claire Finkelstein, Jens David Ohlin, & Andrew Altman, eds. Oxford 2012).
[Available Here]

HOBBES ON LAW, editor of volume for Ashgate Publishing (2005).
[Available Here]

Articles and Book Chapters

Moral Reasoning and the Death Penalty, in PHILOSOPHY AND PUBLIC POLICY (Andrew Cohen ed., Rowman & Littlefield 2018).

Killing in War and the Moral Equality Thesis, 32 SOC. PHIL. & POL'Y 184 (2016).

Toward a Contractarian Theory of Law, in LAW AND SOCIAL ECONOMICS: ESSAYS IN ETHICAL VALUES FOR THEORY, PRACTICE, AND POLICY (Mark D. White, ed., Palgrave Macmillan 2015).

Responsibility and the Doctrine of Double Effect, in LAW AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF ACTION (Enrique Villanueva ed., Rodopi 2014).

Pragmatic Rationality and Risk (Symposium in Honor of David Gauthier on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Morals by Agreement), 123 ETHICS 673 (2013).

Roundtable Discussion Transcript: The Legal and Ethical Limits of Technological Warfare Symposium, February 1, 2013, University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, 2013 UTAH L. REV. 1321 (with Amos N. Guiora, Harry Soyster, David R. Irvine, Geoffrey S. Corn, James Jay Carafano, Laurie R. Blank, Monica Hakimi, George R. Lucas, Trevor W. Morrison, and Frederic Megret).

Hobbesian Legal Reasoning and the Problem of Wicked Laws, in HOBBES TODAY (Sharon Lloyd, ed., Cambridge 2013).

Contractarianism, in ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (Fred D’Agostino and Gerry Gaus, eds., Routledge 2012).

Punishment as Contract, 8 OHIO ST. J. CRIM. L. 319 (2011).

Vindicating the Rule of Law: Prosecuting Free Riders on Human Rights, in WHEN GOVERNMENTS BREAK THE LAW: THE RULE OF LAW AND THE PROSECUTION OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION (Austin Sarat and Nasser Hussein, eds. 2010).

Should Bush Administration Lawyers Be Prosectured for Authorizing Torture?, 158 U. PA. L. REV. PENNumbra 195 (2010) (with Michael W. Lewis).

Contrived Defenses and Deterrent Threats: Two Facets of One Problem , 5 OHIO ST. J. CRIM. L. 479 (2008) (with Leo Katz).

Acting on an Intention, in REASON, INTENTION AND MORALITY (Gijs Van Donselaar & Bruno Verbeek eds., Ashgate Publishing, 2008).

A Contractarian Argument Against the Death Penalty, 81 N.Y.U. L. REV. 1283 (2006).

Hobbes and the Internal Point of View, 75 FORDHAM L. REV. 1211 (2006).

Report for British Law Commission on American Murder Law, Completed September, 2005 (available upon request), published in British Law Commission CP177 (December 20, 2005).

Responsibility for Unintended Consequences, 2 OHIO ST. J. CRIM. L. 579 (2005).

Is Risk a Harm?, 151 U. PA. L. REV. 963 (2003).

More publications can be found here.

Working Papers

ETHICAL DILEMMAS IN THE GLOBAL DEFENSE INDUSTRY (Kevin Govern and Claire Finkelstein eds., Oxford, forthcoming).. (forthcoming)

Contract Under Coercion: Should You Keep a Contract with a Robber? (manuscript available upon request). (forthcoming)

On Doing Something Unintended, Intentionally. (forthcoming)

Hobbes on Contract (forthcoming)

Research Areas

  • Criminal Law
  • Contracts
  • Professional Ethics
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Jurisprudence
  • International Law
  • Law of War
  • Philosophy of Law
  • National Security Law


Penn Law - Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (2009- ); Professor of Law and Philosophy (2001-09); Founder and Faculty Director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) (2012-); Visiting Faculty (2000-01)

University of California, Berkeley - Professor of Law (2000-2001); Acting Professor of Law (1995-99)

Visits and Fellowships - Siemens Fellow, American Academy in Berlin (2008)

Harsanyi Fellow, Center for Social and Political Philosophy, Research School for the Social Sciences, Australian National University (2000)

Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow, Princeton Center for Human Values, Princeton (1999)

Visiting Fellow, Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Apliquée (CREA) Paris, France (1998)

Professional Activities

Law and Philosophy, Advisory Board

AALS Section on Jurisprudence, Chair 2002-03


  • Professional Responsibility
  • National Security Law
  • The Law of War
  • Contracts Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Introduction to Jurisprudence
  • Political Philosophy and the Law
  • Jurisprudence of War Crimes
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Modern Legal Thought

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