Finnis, John Mitchell


Finnis, John Mitchell
(1940-)
   A Roman Catholic philosopher at the universities of Oxford and Notre Dame, Finnis is widely considered one of the world's leading moral philosophers and natural-law theorists. Finnis has helped develop a reinvigorated natural-law alternative to deontological and consequentialist ethics. To this end, Finnis seeks to identify the first principles of practical reason that guide our ethical action to the end of achieving seven intrinsic goods that are knowable per se (in themselves). Among these goods are (1) human life, (2) justice and friendship, and (3) religion and holiness. Finnis believes that the good of human life renders contraception unacceptable, and he charges that Roman-Catholic ethicists that accept contraception are in danger of embracing a proportionalist ethic. Finnis has worked to develop his natural-law framework in a way appreciable by nontheists, a project that has opened him up to charges of compromise. Among his many influential works is Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980).
   Further reading: Covell 1992; Finnis 1980 and 1983

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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