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Claire Finkelstein

Contact Information


Claire Finkelstein

Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy

Claire Finkelstein’s current research addresses national security law and policy and democratic governance with a focus on related ethical and rule of law issues.

Professor Finkelstein is the founder and academic director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), a non-partisan interdisciplinary institute affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). She is a distinguished research fellow at APPC and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).

An expert in the law of armed conflict, military ethics, and national security law, she is a co-editor (with Jens David Ohlin) of The Oxford Series in Ethics, National Security, and the Rule of Law, and an editor of five of its volumes: Targeted Killings: Law & Morality in an Asymmetrical World (2012); Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts(2015); Weighing Lives in War (2017); Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority (2018); and Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of War (forthcoming). Most recently, she served as a contributing reporter to If It’s Broke, Fix It: Restoring Federal Government Ethics and Rule of Law published by the Brookings Institution in 2021.

Professor Finkelstein has briefed Pentagon officials, U.S. Senate staff, and JAG Corps members on various issues in national security law and practice. She is a frequent radio, podcast, broadcast, and print commentator and has published op-eds in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek. Her other scholarly work has focused on criminal law theory, moral and political philosophy, jurisprudence, and rational choice theory. She is the editor of Hobbes on Law (Ashgate Publishing, 2005) and is completing a book called Contractarian Legal Theory.


  • PhD (philosophy)University of Pittsburgh96
  • JDYale93
  • MaitriseUniversity of Paris, Sorbonne87
  • BAHarvard86

Courses Taught

  • 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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  • Criminal Law and Procedure|International and Comparative Law|Jurisprudence and Philosophy|Professional Responsibility and Ethics