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The Function of the Law („Gesetz“) in Past and Present

The Function of the Law („Gesetz“) in Past and Present  

This Commission was founded in 1984 in order to conduct research on the function of the law in past and present” (where „law“ in the narrower sense of “Gesetz“ and not in the broader sense “Recht“ is meant). It has since organized 18 symposia. In the scientific conferences, whose results have been published in book form, predominantly lawyers with historical, philosophical, dogmatic and comparative law approaches have looked for answers on where the law comes from, how it is created, what the law achieves, and how it changes under the impression of Europeanization and internationalization.

Even if the concept of “Recht“ does not appear in the Commission's title, it still plays an important role in the Commission's work. For the “Gesetz“ has been the main source of law (in the broader sense of “Recht“) since the early modern period and the primary form of action the public authority has used to transform its political claim to shape. The “Gesetz“ is also more than an order with a random content, as primarily the constitutional law („Verfassungsgesetz“), characterized by high stability and superiority, makes clear.

However, the “Gesetz“ is no longer the exclusive form of action for important political projects or for restricting the individual freedom of citizens. At the supranational level, there are forms of action that have arisen in the form of Regulations and Directives of the European Union as well as treaties under international law, which the familiar categories of legislative theory do not reflect. At the same time, normativity is increasingly created by legally non-binding rules of conduct that have a political and moral effect on citizens (“soft law”). These developments and phenomena are also taken into account in the work of the commission.

An overall view of the previous symposia shows that the term “Gesetz” was chosen wisely for the commission. The term makes it possible to integrate not only all disciplines of law, but also the basic dimension of jurisprudence as well as references to the adjacent humanities and social sciences into the commission's work. At the same time, it is sufficiently open to reflect social dynamics and their political formation.