RUSSLR Lecture: Adelaide’s John Finnis: The Origins of a Mastermind

When: Monday, 28 April 2014 at 1:00pm
Where: Moot Court Room, Ligertwood Building, Adelaide Law School

Speaker: Horst Klaus Lücke is Professor Emeritus of the Adelaide Law School and Honorary Professor, University of Queensland (from 2007). His recent publications include ‘Ulrich Hübbe and the Torrens System: Hübbe’s German background, his life in Australia and his contribution to the creation of the Torrens system’ (2010) 30 Adelaide Law Review 213–244; ‘Legal history in Australia: The development of Australian legal/historical scholarship’ (2010) 32 Zeitschrift für Neuere Rechtsgeschichte 236–260; republished (2010) 34 Australian Bar Review 109–148; ‘Statutes and the intention of the lawmaker as the ultimate guide to their applicability: history and prospects’ [2010] Supreme Court History Program Yearbook 1–24; ‘The European natural law codes: the age of reason and the powers of government’ (2012) 31(1) Queensland University Law Journal 7–38; ‘Early Australia. English and Scottish “Old Colonists” with Hamburg connections’, Rahemtula, Aladin & Sayers, Mark (eds), The Idea of Legal History, A Tribute in Honour of Dr Michael White QC (Brisbane, Supreme Court of Queensland Library 2013) 183–201.

Synopsis: John Finnis is one of the most important scholars ever to have emerged from the University of Adelaide. He is the Oxford Professor Emeritus of Law and Legal Philosophy, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and the author of Natural law and natural rights, his now famous contribution to our understanding of the nature of law. He has also acted as an adviser to the Vatican. Oxford University Press has celebrated his achievements by publishing selected essays in five volumes. Each volume has a dust jacket with a scene of early South Australia. Two Festschriften have been published, one in Oxford and one in Brisbane. In this lecture, one of his Adelaide former law teachers presents a study of Finnis’s Adelaide origins, concentrating not on his brilliant Law School record (1958 to 1962), but on his extracurricular activities. At that time religion was a major concern for many students. Numerous reports, debates and articles concerned with religious issues found their way into On Dit, the student newspaper, and the Adelaide University Magazine. At certain times the Debating Club, the Student Representative Council and, indeed, On Dit itself were dominated by Finnis and his friends. Many intellectuals, both in England and Australia, were attracted by the Roman Catholic Church, for it seemed to them the one true Church, confident, unchanging and free of the fickleness and the confusions which marked the Protestant religious scene. Finnis and others at Adelaide during his student days converted to Catholicism. The lecture will concentrate on Finnis’s conversion and will highlight how some of his early concerns remained with him and are reflected in his mature work.

For further information, contact Paul Babie,

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