The Department of Legal Philosophy

Legal philosophy has a long tradition in Vienna, dating back to the days of the natural law theorists Karl Anton von Martini (1726–1800) and Franz von Zeiller (1751–1828). During the first half of the twentieth century, Viennese legal philosophy earned itself international acclaim when Hans Kelsen (1881–1973) and his collaborators developed a pronounced and much debated version of legal positivism, the so-called Pure Theory of Law. Owing to the initiative of Gerhard Luf, whose works have contributed considerably to the rehabilitation of practical reason in legal philosophy, the discipline became established as a separate Department in 1985. 

To this day, both legal theory and legal philosophy are very much alive in Vienna.

In 2005, the Department of Legal Philosophy was merged with the Department of Law and Religion. It dated back to the founding of the Vienna law faculty and was home to many eminent scholars, such as Paul Joseph von Riegger (1705–1775), a defender of religious toleration, and Max Hussarek von Heinlein (1865–1936), a leading theorist of the legal relation between the state and religious communities. Under the stewardship of Richard Potz, the discipline was expanded into the comprehensive study of law and religion. 

This fused unit has been given its current name in 2016.

For information on the research conducted at the Department click here