Bronwyn Finnigan

I am a Senior Lecturer and Australian Research Council Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University (ANU). I work in metaethics, moral psychology, philosophy of action and philosophy of mind in Western and Asian philosophical traditions. I am currently working on two related research projects. The first investigates the nature of practical rationality involved in skilled action taken as a model of moral agency. The second examines Buddhist moral psychology and the meta-ethical grounds for rationally reconstructing Buddhist ethical thought.


I have a BA (University of Melbourne), MA (University of Sydney) and PhD (University of Auckland) in Philosophy under the direction of Rosalind Hursthouse and John Bishop. My doctoral thesis researched the nature of phronēsis or practical intelligence involved in pre-reflective modes of ethical response. The first chapter was published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2015) and was short-listed for the Annette Baier Prize 2015.

My ARC Early Career Research fellowship investigates the meta-ethical and moral psychological foundations of Buddhist ethical thought. It aims to critically analyse the theoretical differences between Buddhist philosophical traditions as they bear on ethics and moral psychology and seeks to reveal a plurality of theoretical grounds on which Western thinkers can embrace Buddhist insights.

I have studied Indian and Tibetan Buddhist thought in India, Nepal, USA, Switzerland and Japan. I co-authored Moonshadows: Conventional Truth and Buddhist Philosophy (Cowherds, OUP, 2011) and am principally responsible for a chapter that analyses Madhyamaka Buddhist two-truth theory in terms of Carnap's internal/external schema (2011) and providing an analysis of ethics for Madhyamaka (2011). I have published articles on the nature of action and ethical agency in the context of Indian Buddhist Pramānāvāda, Classical Chinese Confucianism and Daoism (2011a; 2011b); and on meta-ethical problems that arise when Buddhist ethics is contextualised in Pramānāvāda epistemology (2010) and Madhyamaka metaphysics (2015, 2018). I have written articles on Buddhist arguments for idealism (2018), the reflexive self-awareness of consciousness (2018), animal welfare and vegetarianism (2017), and an article analysing recent debates about whether Buddhist ethics is consequentialist or a form of virtue ethics (2017). I have co-authored a book chapter with Koji Tanaka on spontaneous action in martial arts (2010) and have a forthcoming article on the moral psychology of fear and trust in the context of Śāntideva's Bodhicaryāvatāra (2019).

I also appear in Ethics Matters, a television series designed to introduce ethics to high school students, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Coorporation. My contributions can be found here and here.


     Email: bronwyn[dot]finnigan[at]anu[dot]edu[dot]au
     School of Philosophy, RSSS
     The Australian National University
     Canberra ACT 2601