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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. 

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.

Part of the interdisciplinary research of this faculty is the research unit "Hans Kelsen and his Circle", headed by Prof. Jabloner.

News - Publications - In the media

  • 2023 04 27, George Pavlakos (Glasgow University), "Kant’s Principle of Right as a Principle of Collective Freedom", lecture hall 1, Protestant Faculty, Schenkenstraße 8-10, 1st staircase, 5th floor, 6:30 pm.
  • 2023 03 30, Clemens Jabloner talks about "Kelsens 'Österreichisches Staatsrecht' 1923 - der Blick auf Monarchie und Republik" at the Department of Science and Arts.
  • 2023 03 30, Anna-Bettina Kaiser (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), "Vom totalen Staat zur totalen Verfassung".
  • 2023 03 16, William Scheuerman (Indiana University), "Hans Kelsen, Leo Strauss, and the Crisis of American Democracy".
  • 2023 03 09, Clemens Jabloner holds a lecture on Austrian art restitution at the Austrian Culture Forum in Berlin.
  • 2023 03 09, Naif Bezwan, "Kurdischer Selbstbestimmungskonfikt aus historischer und vergleichender Sicht".
  • 2023 03 03, Alexander Somek talks about "European Constitutional Law and the European Public Sphere" at the "International Conference Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Constitutional Court - Constitutionalism in the 21th Century", 2023 03 02-03, Lissabon.
  • 2023 02 24, Alexander Somek participates at the round table "Völkerrecht und ausländisches öffentliches Recht. Zwei Disziplinen in wissenschaftshistorischer Perspektive" at the seminar "100 Jahre Öffentliches Recht" of MPI für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, Heidelberg.
  • 2023 02 02, Eva Maria Maier talks about "Strafmaß und die 'volle Härte' des Gesetzes" - Grundsätzliche Gedanken zur Konjunktur von höheren Strafen, in Ö1 Punkt eins.
  • 2023 02 01, Jakob Rendl gives a lecture on "Dark or Bright? European Constitutionalism and International Law in Post-War Europe" via Zoom at the University of Copenhagen.