Virpi Mäkinen, D. Theol. and Docent in Theological Ethics and Philosophy of Religion, University of Helsinki; Senior Lecturer of Systematic Theology, esp. Theological and Social Ethics, University of Helsinki

As a PI of the project, Mäkinen investigates the genealogy of the right of subsistence by focusing on the relations between self-preservation, self-ownership, and the right of necessity in the medieval and early modern legal, philosophical and theological sources.  The results will be published as a monograph Self-Preservation and Natural Rights (preliminary title) and in pre-reviewed articles. For the latest book, see Rights at the Margins: Historical, Legal and Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Virpi Mäkinen, Jonathan Robinson, Pamela Slotte & Heikki Haara (Leuven: Brill 2020).

University of Helsinki Research Portal



Heikki Haara , Doctor of Social Sciences; Master of Theology, University of Helsinki; University Lecturer of Political History, University of Helsinki

As a postdoctoral researcher, Haara concentrates on early modern sources and investigates the appearance of the maxim of extreme necessity in the writings of 17th-century natural law theorists (e.g. Grotius, Hobbes, Pufendorf, Locke) by explicating how they both learnt and departed from earlier scholastic traditions when theorising the relation between the right of self-preservation and the maxim. Another task concerning 17th-century Protestant thinkers is to focus on the political implications of the maxim of necessity (e.g. resistance theory and the prisoner’s right).

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Mia Korpiola, Doctor of Law and Docent in Legal History, University of Helsinki; Professor of Law, University of Turku

As a senior researcher, Korpiola investigates the influence of the learned doctrine “necessitas non habet legem” in Nordic medieval laws as well as in early modern German laws. She focuses on criminal law and especially on the cases of theft. Korpiola started in the project in the late 2022.


University of Turku

Ritva Palmén, D.Th., Docent in Philosophy of Religion; Academy Research Fellow, University of Helsinki

As a senior researcher, Palmén explores the idea of extreme necessity and its moral psychological implications in medieval and renaissance Latin and vernacular sources (e.g. in Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugh of St. Victor, John of Salisbury) by focusing on the notions of self-preservation and ‘inner security’. Another task is to analyse the topic of moral emotions by asking how the internal moral struggles and their accompanying emotions (despair, fear, shame) were envisioned and evaluated in early Christian depictions of the poor in need.

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Mikko Posti

D.Th. in Philosophy of Religion, University of Helsinki; Liaison Manager, URBARIA (Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies)

As a postdoctoral researcher, Posti studied in the project during 2020–2022 medieval and early modern theological and political texts of Henry of Ghent, John of Naples, and John of Legnano focusing on the concepts of just war and selfdefense, and the use of the notion of extreme necessity in these sources.

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Katja Tikka, Doctor of Law, Master of Arts (history), University of Helsinki

As a postdoctoral researcher (1/2023–), Tikka explores the medieval and early modern court documents of the cases of hungry and theft in Nordic law to see how the necessity / right to necessity has been applied.




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Siiri Toiviainen, Ph.D. in Historical Theology, Durham University

As a postdoctoral researcher, Toiviainen explores the use of the principle of extreme necessity in early Christian patristic sources and their influence on the thought of medieval canon lawyers. Her main research themes are e.g., the concept of nature in relation to the needs of the body and social justice, extreme necessity as a state limiting moral authority as well as moral emotions in ancient ethics.

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