Dr Christopher Finlay

Dr Christopher Finlay

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Reader in Political Theory

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 5091
+44 (0)121 414 3496
Department of Political Science and International Studies
School of Government and Society
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Christopher J. Finlay is a Reader in Political Theory. He teaches and writes on international political theory, particularly just war theory, terrorism and the ethics of political violence, and on the history of political thought.


  • Ph.D in Modern History, University of Dublin, Trinity College.
  • B.A. in History and Political Science (First Class Honours), University of Dublin, Trinity College.


Christopher J. Finlay is a Reader in Political Theory. He teaches and writes on international political theory, particularly just war theory, terrorism and the ethics of political violence, and on the history of political thought.

Christopher recently completed a project focusing on the ethical and theoretical dimensions of the concept of terrorism and its relationship with theories of revolution, armed resistance and war. This work addresses contemporary debates in just war theory, international relations, political theory and applied ethics. He has published widely on these themes and related issues such as military intervention and torture. Christopher's book, Terrorism and the Right to Resist: a Theory of Just Revolutionary War will be published by Cambridge University Press later in 2015. Work for this project was supported by a British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2010-11.

Christopher's previous work explored the social contexts and concerns of moral and political philosophy in the Scottish Enlightenment. His book, Hume’s Social Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2007), completed a project funded by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences on Possessive Individualism and the Social Thought of the Scottish Enlightenment. He has also written on the political thought of Adam Ferguson and on education and moral philosophy in the Enlightenment.


Current teaching:

  • POLS 102: Classical Political Thought, Plato to Rousseau
  • Theory and Ethics of Terrorism and Violence (MA-Level)
  • Ethical Dimensions of Terrorism, Political Violence and War (MA-Level)


  • POLS G75: Modernity and its Critics


Research interests: Political Theory; ;Just War Theory; Applied Ethics; History of Political Thought; Enlightenment Political Thought; Terrorism; Non-state political violence; Torture; Human Rights

Current Projects: I am currently working on a series of papers exploring the following themes: 

  1. Critical Dimensions of the Ethics of Political Violence:particularly focused on conceptual foundations and deeper assumptions upon which just war theory and related approaches towards ethics in armed conflict is practiced. 
  2. Human Rights, Oppression and Radical Politics:papers explore the relationship between the ideal of human rights and the themes of oppression, resistance and revolution in political thought.
  3. Security in Political Philosophy: particularly focused on the relationship between conceptions of security and liberty in the history of liberal and republican political thought.

Other activities

Administrative responsibilities

  • POLSIS Director of Learning and Teaching (2012-present)
  • POLSIS Director of Graduate Admissions (2007-2010)
  • Deputy Director, POLSIS Graduate School (2009-2010)

Other professional appointments

  • British Academy - Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow, 2010-2011


  • Books

Finlay, C. J. (forthcoming 2015) Terrorism and the Right to Resist: A Theory of Just Revolutionary War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Finlay, C. J and Carey, D. , ed. (2011) The Empire of Credit: The Financial Revolution in Britain, Ireland and America 1689-1815 (Irish Academic Press)

Finlay, C. J. (2007) Hume’s Social Philosophy: Human Nature and Commercial Sociability in A Treatise of Human Nature (London & New York: Continuum International Publishers, 2007).

  • Journal Special Issues

Special Issue of Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory & Historical Sociology on ‘Violence, Power and Revolution: Critical Perspectives in the Theory and Politics of Democratization’ (Vol. 97, May 2009) co-edited with Stefan Auer.

  • Journal Articles:

Finlay, C. J. (2013) 'Fairness and Liability in the Just War: Combatants, Non-Combatants, and Lawful Irregulars,' Political Studies, 61.1: 142-60.

Finlay, C. J. ( 2011) ‘Dirty Hands and the Romance of the Ticking Bomb Terrorist: a Humean Account,’ Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 14.4: 421-42.

Finlay, C. J. (2010) ‘Terrorism, Resistance and the Idea of “Unlawful Combatancy”,’ (Review Essay) Ethics & International Affairs, 24.1: 91-104.

Finlay, C. J. (2010) ‘Legitimacy and Non-State Political Violence,’ Journal of Political Philosophy, 18.3: 287-312.

Finlay, C. J. (2009) ‘How to do things with the word “terrorist”,’ Review of International Studies, 35.4: 751-74.

Finlay, C. J. (2009) ‘Hannah Arendt’s Critique of Violence,’ Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory & Historical Sociology, 97: 26-45.

Finlay, C. J. (2008) ‘Self-Defence and the Right to Resist,’ (Critical Notice), International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16.1: 83-98.

Finlay, C. J. (2007) ‘Reform Interventions and Democratic Revolution,’ European Journal of International Relations, 13.4: 555-81.

Finlay, C. J. (2006) ‘Violence and Revolutionary Subjectivity, Marx to Žižek,’ European Journal of Political Theory, 5.4: 373-97. (Reprinted in Mike O’Donnell (ed.) Structure and Agency, Sage Books, forthcoming, 2010.)

Finlay, C. J. (2006) ‘Rhetoric and Citizenship in Adam Ferguson’s Essay on the History of Civil Society’, History of Political Thought, vol. XXVII, no. 1: 27-49.

Finlay, C. J. (2004) ‘Hume’s Theory of Civil Society,’ European Journal of Political Theory. 3.4: 369-91