Rocco Buttiglione was born on June 6, 1948 in Gallipoli (province of Lecce), Italy. He studied law in Turin and Rome, where he took his degree with a thesis in the history of political doctrines. He became an assistant to his academic advisor, Professor Augusto Del Noce and collaborated with Del Noce for many years. He is married and the father of four daughters.
His main intellectual concerns have been philosophy, social ethics, economics, and politics. He has held professorships at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein and Saint Pius V University in Rome and has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Science. He has lectured internationally and is on the editorial boards of many Italian and foreign journals.
In the early 1990s, Buttiglione helped to form an Italian political party, the Christian Democratic Union and since 1994 has served in the Chamber of Deputies in the Italian Parliament. Since 1999 he has been a member of the European Parliament, and in 2001 he was appointed by Italy's President Silvio Berlusconi to be Minister of European Affairs. He also serves on the Acton Institute's board of advisors.