Friedrich Julius Stahl - at the crossroads between legal scholarship and politics
Max Planck Lecture in Legal History and Legal Theory
- Date: Jun 5, 2023
- Time: 04:15 PM - 05:45 PM (Local Time Germany)
- Speaker: Marie Sandström
- Stockholms universitet
- Organisation: Stefanie Rüther
- Location: mpilhlt
- Room: Seminar room (Z01)
- Host: Stefan Vogenauer
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why should anyone spend valuable time studying the life and works of Friedrich Julius Stahl? History has not always been kind to Stahl. He has often been described as an obscure character at the fringe of the Historical school, overshadowed by Savigny and Puchta. Even generally reliable commentators, like Ernst Landsberg, have branded Stahl something of a maverick in the legal scholarship of the 19th century: According to this view, he either squandered his intellectual capital on the cause of Prussian conservativism, or indulged in philosophical speculation in contrast to the supposed legal pragmatism of the Historical school.
In this talk I will argue that most of the attempts at pigeonholing Stahl amount to oversimplifications and, at best, half-truths. In fact, the legal philosophy advanced by Stahl in his magnum opus, Die Philosophie des Rechts, seems to align fairly well with the school’s program. One particularly striking example is the emphasis he put on the dialectical relationship between the twin concepts of legal institutions (Rechtsinstitute) and legal relationships (Rechtsverhältnisse). However, what ultimately drove Landsberg to classify Stahl as a speculative philosopher rather than a legal scholar in the vein of the Historical school, was his doctrine on the constitutional state (Rechtsstaatslehre). This is the point at which Stahl’s legal scholarship seem to merge into politics in a way that would set him apart from Savigny and other proponents of the Historical school. The question is, however, if this is a correct assessment. I will argue that it may, in fact, be the other way around.