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Faculty of Divinity


Dr Orr is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Faculty of Divinity, a position he took up after four years as a postdoctoral fellow at the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at the University of Oxford.  He holds a PhD and MPhil in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Cambridge and a BA in Literae Humaniores (Classics) from Balliol College, Oxford.  Before entering academia, he worked in corporate law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Sullivan & Cromwell. 

Dr Orr's research interests in philosophical theology focus on the internal coherence and theoretical power of the metaphysical frameworks underpinning Abrahamic monotheism in light of the many and various critiques raised against them from across the analytic and continental philosophical traditions.  He is especially interested in uncovering productive tensions between the ‘existentialist’ attunement of continental philosophy in the wake of Heidegger and the renaissance of confidence in the ‘essentialist’ metaphysics among Neo-Aristotelian and Thomist thinkers, especially on such topics as grounding, function, kinds, universals, causation, laws, and powers.  He was recently interviewed about his work by Richard Marshall for Philosophy at 3:AM

In addition to his academic research and teaching, Dr Orr is actively engaged in a range of policy debates in the public square, including freedom of conscience and beliefacademic freedom and freedom of speechpatriotism and nationhood, and bioethical issues arising at the beginning and end of human life.  He was recently appointed to the Ministry of Justice's Advisory Assessment Panel for selecting the National Mental Health Forum Chair.  He is a Trustee of St Paul's Theological Centre, an Associate Fellow of ResPublica, and a member of the Advisory Councils of the New Social Covenant Unit, the Free Speech Union, the Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation, History Reclaimed, and Briefings for Britain.


Key publications: 


  1. Being and Eternity: Phenomenology and Thomism in Edith Stein (Bloomsbury, forthcoming, 2022)
  2. Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics and the Theology of Nature (London: Routledge, 2021) (co-editor with William M.R. Simpson and Robert C. Koons)
  3. The Mind of God and the Works of Nature: Laws and Powers in Naturalism, Platonism, and Classical Theism (Leuven: Peeters, 2019)


  1. 'Grounding Basic Equality' [under review]
  2. 'Diffusing Power: Legal Pluralism and Ecclesial Personality' [under review]
  3. 'Phenomenology and Thomism' (with John R. Betz) in M. DeJonge and C. Tietze, eds., The Oxford History of Modern German Theology, Volume 3 (1918-2000) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming)
  4. 'Divine Lawmaking: Powers and Kinds,' in W. R. Simpson, R. Koons, and J. Orr, eds., Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics and the Theology of Nature (London: Routledge, 2021), 408-31
  5. 'Hegel and Holiness,' in G. Kings and I. Randall, eds., Pastor, Mission Theologian, Mystic: Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward (London: Ekklesia, forthcoming)
  6. 'The Discarded Mind: Divine Ideas and Secular Concepts,' Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 62(2) (2020), 167–89
  7. 'No God, No Powers: Classical Theism and Pandispositionalist Laws,’ International Philosophical Quarterly 59(4) (2019), 411-26
  8. 'Berlinian Pluralism and Abrahamic Monotheism,' Political Theology 18(5) (2017), 441-57
  9. 'Teleology as a Theological Problem in Kant’s Pre-Critical Thought,’ Modern Theology 32(4) (2016), 522–43
  10. ‘The Fullness of Life: Death, Finitude, and Life-Philosophy in Edith Stein’s Critique of the Early Heidegger,’ Heythrop Journal 55(4) (2014), 565-75
  11. ‘Being and Timelessness: Edith Stein’s Theological Critique of Heideggerian Temporality,’ Modern Theology 30(1) (2014), 114-31
  12. ‘Heidegger’s Critique of Aquinas on Truth: A Critical Assessment,’ New Blackfriars 95 (2014), 43-56
  13. ‘Edith Stein’s Critique of Sociality in the Early Heidegger,’ Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 55(3) (2013), 379-96


  1. Philip Gonzales, Reimagining the Analogia Entis: The Future of Erich Przywara’s Christian Vision (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019), Scottish Journal of Theology 73(3) (2020), 269-71
  2. Tom Holland, Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind (London: Little, Brown, 2019), The Critic (December 2019)
  3. Paul Draper and J.L. Schellenberg, eds., Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), Times Literary Supplement (6 September 2019)
  4. Fiona Ellis, ed., New Models of Religious Understanding (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), Times Literary Supplement (6 September 2019)
  5. Oliver O'Donovan, Entering Into Rest: Ethics as Theology III (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 2017), Times Literary Supplement (April 2018)
  6. Rupert Shortt, God is No Thing: Coherent Christianity (London: Hurst Publishing, 2016), Religious Studies 53(2) (2017), 285-7 
  7. Anthony Meredith, S.J., Christian Philosophy in the Early Church (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2012), Heythrop Journal 57(1) (2016), 236-7 
  8. John Hughes, ed., The Unknown God: Responses to the New Atheists (London: SCM Press, 2013), Science and Christian Belief 27(2) (2015), 212-4 
  9. Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Religious Studies (2015)
  10. James Mumford, Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A Phenomenological Critique (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Modern Theology 31(2) (2015)
  11. Russell Re Manning, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Expository Times 125 (2014), 333-35 

Teaching and Supervisions

  • PhD Supervision
  • MPhil (Philosophy of Religion)
  • Tripos Part IIB, C11 ("Truth, God, and Metaphysics")
  • Tripos Part IIA, B11 ("Ethics and Faith") [Paper Coordinator]
  • Tripos Part IIA, B10 ("God, Freedom, and the Soul")
  • Tripos Part I, A9 ("Ethics") [Paper Coordinator]
  • Tripos Part I, A8 ("Philosophy of Religion")
Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion
Dr James  Orr

Contact Details

Email address: 
Not available for consultancy



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