John Finnis’s Natural Law and Natural Rights is one of the most important books in jurisprudence of the past century — and an erudite and magisterial interpretation of the tradition of natural law. On a personal note, it was also one of the books that most influenced my decision to want to teach law; I thought, a life spent trying to create a monument as lasting as this book is a life well lived.
A five-volume collection of Professor Finnis’s shorter work has now been published, The Collected Essays of John Finnis (OUP 2011), which provides a comprehensive picture of the man’s views in legal, political, and moral philosophy (each book can be purchased singly). For readers here, the last volume, Religion and Public Reasons, looks especially worthwhile (though all of them look terrific), as it engages masterfully with the issue of the role of religion in political decisionmaking.
And there are two excellent conferences this fall which will discuss and celebrate Professor Finnis’s work: first, at Notre Dame Law School on September 9; second, at Villanova Law School on September 30.