Reason and law

In his dissertation project on the intellectual history of contractualism (‘Der Vernunftbegriff des Rechts. Die systematische Problemgeschichte des Kontraktualismus’, supervisor: Professor Dirk Hartmann), Sven Ender M.A. (Department of Philosophy) provides proof that the reciprocity of the legal relation cannot arise from contractualism. Instead, it is a prerequisite for the contractual basis of the law. Fichte justifies the condition of reciprocity independently of the conclusion of any contract. He subsequently demonstrates, using a fictional contract as an example, what legal obligations are meaningful in realising the condition of reciprocity. The best contractualist, then, is simultaneously the best critic of contractualism. The work addresses objections to modern contractualism by highlighting that a universalist, normative philosophy of law is feasible and can help us avoid cultural relativism.