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Chair for Public Law, Constitutional Theory, and Legal Philosophy (Public Law IV) - Prof. Carsten Bäcker

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In accordance with its denomination, research at the chair focuses on public law with its connections to the philosophy of law. Philosophy of law is understood in the sense of analytical philosophy of law, also known as legal theory. A particularly prominent research focus lies in constitutional theory as a systematic exploration of the constitutional foundations in the Grundgesetz.

Philosophy of law, legal theory and constitutional theory are universal in their subject matter. Nevertheless, German public law, administrative law, and even more so constitutional law, is usually the starting point for the research projects of the Chair. These range from the criticism of principles of state organisation law such as the “principle of the rule of law” (Rechtsstaatsprinzip) in the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, to questions of doctrine on fundamental rights, such as the ability to balance human dignity as a principle within the meaning of Article 1.1 of the Basic Law, to considerations of the legal position of the whistle-blower in office. In addition, the principles of public law are also addressed separated from positive law.

The research of the chair holder is based on a relativistic discourse theory of law, which does not recognise either procedurally or materially idealistic conceptions of correctness. The main goal of the research is to criticize and to reconstruct the existing system of public law in Germany, including its methodology, on these theoretical foundations. This has begun with comments on the model of law in discourse theory, with criticism regarding the possibility of the rejection of constitutional complaints without providing any reasons, which can hardly be justified in discourse theory, and considerations on the recognition of unlimited constitutional changes without any changes in the written constitution, which are hardly in accordance with the discourse-theoretical model of law.

Institutionally, the Chair pursues two primary objectives for its research areas: The promotion of young scholars and the increase of interdisciplinary and international exchange. To this end, the Chair supports the Young Forum on Philosophy of Law (JFR); the cross-national German-speaking junior organization of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR, German Section). In addition, the Chair organizes local internal colloquia, in which current developments in the research areas of the Chair are taken up and discussed. Several times during the semester, nationally and internationally renowned guests are invited to Bayreuth – within the framework of the talks on jurisprudence organised with Andreas Funke and his Erlangen Chair – who give an insight into their ongoing research and will participate readily in discussions in an informal atmosphere. Furthermore, the chair, funded by the DFG, participates in cognitive psychological experiments on the rationality of decisions in law.

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