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

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Teaching at the Chair of Public Law IV is based on the conviction that the study of law is more than just a preparation for the First State Examination, especially in the first semesters. It is about teaching jurisprudence, about legal wisdom, which should serve prospective jurists as a reliable compass in their professional lives.

Legal wisdom appears to be primarily about who can apply the applicable law onto given facts and thus lead them to a legally correct (i.e. legally justifiable) solution. However, this can only be done by those who recognise what the applicable law is – or how it is understood, is to be understood and should be understood. Therefore, only those who can distinguish and name these three understandings of the applicable law are legally wise. For this reason alone, legal education cannot be limited to merely imparting knowledge about how and with what arguments the highest court has decided or will decide certain cases. It is about conveying the ability to critically inquire whether other arguments should have been used to decide differently. But legal wisdom also requires, beyond this, insight into the essential characteristics of the law. A legal norm – what is that? What distinguishes it from a moral norm? Where does legal validity begin and end? What may and what must judicature and administration do? What distinguishes between and what unites legislation and application of law? These questions lead us towards the study of legal theory.

The central concern of the Chair's teaching is to teach both practical legal thinking with the First State Examination in mind as well as foundational legal theory without isolating them from each other. This can only be achieved in the teaching of constitutional and administrative law by including additional references to the relevant foundations in methodology, legal history, constitutional theory and legal philosophy, in the same way as is referred to the valid law, in particular constitutional and administrative law, in the teaching of the foundational subjects.

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