Emerging from the shadow of Savigny and Puchta

26. Mai 2023

Our upcoming Max Planck Lecture in Legal History and Legal Theory is about an intriguing figure situated at the intersection of legal scholarship and politics: Friedrich Julius Stahl.

The lecture will take place at our Institute on 5 June at 16:15 and will be delivered by Marie Sandström of Stockholm University, who is also a member of the mpilhlt’s Advisory Board.

History has often not been kind to Stahl, seeing him as a rather obscure character on the margins of the Historische Rechtsschule and overshadowed by Savigny and Puchta. Even generally reliable commentators, like Ernst Landsberg, have branded him something of a maverick: in Landsberg’s view, Stahl either squandered his intellectual capital on the cause of Prussian conservatism, or indulged in philosophical speculation that contradicted the supposed legal pragmatism of the Historical School.

In her lecture, Sandström will argue that most of the attempts at pigeon-holing Stahl are oversimplifications and that, in fact, Stahl’s legal philosophy as outlined in his magnum opus, Die Philosophie des Rechts, aligns fairly well with the Historical School’s programme. One particularly striking example of this is Stahl’s emphasis on the dialectical relationship between the twin concepts of legal institutions (Rechtsinstitute) and legal relationships (Rechtsverhältnisse). Sandström will critically revisit Landsberg’s assessment – largely based on his reading of Stahl’s ideas on the Rechtsstaat – that Stahl’s legal scholarship merged into politics in a way that set him apart from Savigny and other proponents of the Historical School.

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