(A5) The State as Worldly Absolute

The project aimed to analyse, both historically and with regard to current discussions, the thesis of modern practical philosophy that the state is an absolute reason for and subject of obligations which cannot be subordinated to religious contents and authorities. To this end, both 16th to 19th-century classical authors and present discussions about religious and secular justifications of human dignity have been studied in the past two years.


Publications on the project’s topic

The following publications have so far resulted from the project work on the topics of state and religion, human dignity, natural justice and bioethics:

  • Naturrecht und Bioethik. In: Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik. Vol. 13, Berlin (de Gruyter) 2008, p. 29-50. Transl. by Claudia Pessina. In: Giornale di Metafisica. Nuova Serie XXX, 2008, no. 3, p. 567-593. Abridged version in: Concilium. Internationale Zeitschrift für Theologie, vol. 46, issue 3, July 2010, p. 279-299 (translations in the journal’s English, Italian and Spanish editions).
  • Das Menschenwürdeargument in der ethischen Debatte über die Stammzellforschung. In: K. Hilpert, Forschung contra Lebensschutz? Der Streit um die Stammzellforschung. Freiburg/Basel/Vienna 2009 (Herder, Reihe Quaestiones Disputatae), p. 182-199.
  • (together with S. Laukötter) Grundrechte als Eigentum, Überlegungen zu John Lockes Zweiter Abhandlung über die Regierung. In: S. Salzborn (ed.), Der Staat des Liberalismus. Die liberale Staatslehre von John Locke. Reihe Staatsverständnisse vol. 31, Baden-Baden (Nomos) 2010, p. 149-163.
  • Staat und Kirche bei Fichte und Hegel. In: W. Beierwaltes, E. Fuchs (eds.), Symposion Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Herkunft und Ausstrahlung seines Denkens. (Munich, 5 and 6 March 2009). Munich 2009. Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Kommission beim Verlag CH. Beck, Munich. p. 47-63.
  • Ist Hegels Staat ein christlicher Staat? In: L. Siep, Aktualität und Grenzen der praktischen Philosophie Hegels. Aufsätze 1997-2009. Munich 2010.

Further papers on natural justice, state sovereignty and on the relationship of state and religion in the philosophy of the early modern period are underway.


From 22 to 24 October 2009, in cooperation with Project A3, “The Grounding of Norms in the Pluralistic State”, an interdisciplinary conference was held on the subject: “From the religious to the secular justification of state norms. On the relationship of religion and politics in the philosophy of the modern period and in judiciary questions of the present”. In the philosophical section, Maximilian Forschner and Günther Mensching spoke comparatively about Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham; Reinhard Brandt and Ludwig Siep about Hobbes and Locke; Walter Jaeschke and Michael Städtler about Kant and Hegel.

In the legal section, Kurt Seelmann and Frank Saliger spoke about the legally protected goods of the criminal law in liberal constitutional states; Michael Anderheiden and Bernhard Jakl about the protection of basic rights; and Christian Walter and Thomas Gutmann about the tradition of basic rights and human rights. Robert Audi gave the keynote lecture on the subject of “Religious and Secular Foundations of Norms”. It was a conscious decision not to plan the philosophical and legal sections independently; instead, they were to be the starting point of a topic-focused interdisciplinary discussion of all participants, also from those disciplines that were represented in the audience. The results of the conference will be published with the publishing house Mohr/Siebeck in Tübingen under the same title in 2011. The editors will be Thomas Gutmann, Bernhard Jakl, Ludwig Siep and Michael Städtler.

Visiting lecturers

Project A5 has so far invited the following visiting lecturers:

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Audi (Notre Dame)
  • Prof. Dr. Myriam Bienenstock (Tours)
  • Prof. Dr. Mahammadé Savadogo (Ouagadougou)