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Faculty of Divinity


Dr Orr is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Faculty of Divinity, a position he took up after four years as McDonald Postdoctoral Fellow in Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Christ Church, Oxford.  He holds a PhD and MPhil in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Cambridge and a BA in Classics from Balliol College, Oxford.  Before entering academia, he worked for several years in corporate law at Freshfields and Sullivan & Cromwell. 

Dr Orr''s research interests include Husserl and the background to early movements in German phenomenology; Heidegger's critiques of theology and Kant's pre-critical appeals to teleology; the union of mystical theology and scholastic metaphysics in Edith Stein's later writings; and, in the analytic tradition, contemporary debates between David Lewis and David Armstrong on the metaphysics of natural laws and causal powers. 

Dr Orr is especially interested in research proposals exploring the philosophical traffic between continental phenomenology and the recovery of pre-modern metaphysical prisms - especially monotheistic ones - to account for laws, powers, causation, kinds, function, and conscious awareness itself. He was recently interviewed about his work by Richard Marshall for Philosophy at 3:AM


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 (please email for research inquiries)
  • MPhil (Philosophy of Religion) [Course Director]
  • 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")
Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion
Dr James  Orr

Contact Details

Email address: 
Not available for consultancy