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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 writes at the intersection of moral and political philosophy and the law. She has published extensively in the areas of criminal law theory, moral and political philosophy as applied to legal questions, jurisprudence, and rational choice theory, and has recently begun writing on the law and ethics of war. Continue reading…


  • Criminal Law
  • Contracts
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • Jurisprudence
  • Law of War


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

TARGETED KILLINGS: LAW AND MORALITY IN AN ASYMMETRICAL WORLD (Claire Finkelstein, Jens Ohlin, & Andrew Altman, eds., Oxford University Press, 2012).

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

Articles and Book Chapters

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).

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

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).

Two Models of Murder: Patterns of Criminalization in the United States, in HOMICIDE LAW IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE (Jeremy Horder and David Hughes, eds. 2007).

Merger and Felony Murder, in DEFINING CRIMES: ESSAYS ON THE CRIMINAL LAW’S “SPECIAL PORT” (Antony Duff & Stuart Green eds., Oxford Univ. Press 2005).

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

A Contractarian Approach to Punishment, BLACKWELL SERIES ON PHILOSOPHY OF LAW (Martin Golding & William Edmundson eds., 2004).

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

Involuntary Crimes, Voluntarily Committed, in CRIMINAL LAW THEORY: DOCTORINES OF THE GENERAL PART (Stephen Shute & A.P. Simester eds., Oxford Univ. Press 2002).

Rational Temptation, in PRACTICAL RATIONALITY AND PREFERENCE: ESSAYS FOR DAVID GAUTHIER (Christopher W. Morris & Arthur Ripstein eds., Oxford Univ. Press 2001).

More publications can be found here.

Working Papers

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
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Contracts
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy
  • Rational Choice Theory


Penn Law - Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (2009- ); Professor of Law and Philosophy (2001-09); Co-Director, Institute for Law and Philosophy (2009- ); Visiting Faculty (2000-01)

University of California, Berkeley - Professor of Law (1999-2000); 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); Princeton Center for Human Values, Princeton University (1998-99)

American Academy in Berlin, Siemens Fellow (Spring 2008)

Professional Activities

Law and Philosophy, Advisory Board

AALS Section on Jurisprudence, Chair 2002-03


  • Criminal Law
  • Contracts
  • Political Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Action Theory
  • Jurisprudence
  • Rationality, Norms, and the Law
  • Contractarianism and the Law
  • Jurisprudence of War Crimes
  • Law and Ethics of War
  • Evidence

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