The essays in Intention and Identity explore themes in Finnis's work touched on only lightly, if at all, in Natural Law and Natural Rights, developing profound accounts of personal identity and existence; group identity and common good; and intention and choice as action- and self-shaping. In his many-faceted study of what it is to be a human person, and a human community, Finnis not only engages with contemporary philosophers and bioethicists such as Peter Singer, Michael Lockwood and John Harris, with thinkers from other traditions such as Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II), and with judges in the highest courts. He also offers illuminating and deeply considered readings of Shakespeare and Aquinas, and debates with Roger Scruton, Joseph Raz, Hans Kelsen, John Rawls, Glanville Williams, Richard Posner, Ronald Dworkin and others. The role of intention in the criminal law and the law of civil wrongs is searchingly explored through case-law, as are judicial attempts to understand conditional and preparatory intentions. Moral or bioethical issues discussed include in vitro fertilization, cloning, abortion, euthanasia, and 'brain death', patriotism, multi-culturalism and immigration.
The essays show the power of a sometimes neglected aspect of the new classical theory of natural law. The volume includes previously unpublished essays on whether brain life is relevant to the beginning of a person's life, on its relevance to the end of one's life, and a substantial introduction in which John Finnis reflects on the nature of human spirit, and on the changes in his thinking about personal reality and about how intention is to be analysed and understood, and its moral significance for individuals and groups appreciated.