About the Research Project

How far should people go in extreme conditions, such as famine, war and natural disasters, to preserve their own lives?

Which laws and social norms may they legitimately break in order to survive?

This Research Council of Finland-Funded Research Project (2020–2024)

  • investigates the roots, interpretations and influence of the maxim of extreme necessity (“necessity has no law”) in ancient, medieval and early modern texts
  • focuses on legal, moral psychological, theological, and political perspectives, paying particular attention to the right of necessity
  • provides the first survey of medieval Scandinavian laws and court records concerning the right of necessity
  • engages with contemporary discourse on the ethics of subsistence in humanitarian and ecological crises

The  project is led by senior lecturer Virpi Mäkinen and based at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki.

Advisory board members

Prof. Annabel Brett, University of Cambridge, UK
Prof. Alejandra Mancilla, University of Oslo, Norway
Prof. Roberto Lambertini, University of Macerata, Italy