Reinhold Zippelius

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Reinhold Zippelius (born 19 May 1928) is a German jurist and law scholar. Now retired, he was formerly the professor of the Philosophy of law and Public law at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.[1][2]

Life and career

Reinhold Walter Zippelius was born in Ansbach (west of Nuremberg), the son of Hans Zippelius and Marie (Stoessel) Zippelius.[citation needed] He embarked on his study of jurisprudence in 1947 at Würzburg and then at Erlangen. In 1949 he switched to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where between 1949 and 1961 he was supported by a scholarship-bursary. He received his doctorate in 1953. His habilitation (higher academic qualification), also from Munich, and supervised by Karl Engisch, would follow in 1961.[2]

After passing his public law exams (1956 and 1963) Zippelius worked in government service in Bavaria, in the end promoted to the level of Oberregierungsrat (senior government legal advisor) at the Interior Ministry.[citation needed] His habilitation in 1961 opened the way for an academic career, and in 1963 he accepted a teaching chair at Erlangen that covered a range of law related disciplines including Philosophy of law, Public law, Administrative/Civil Law and Church law.[2] Despite attempts by Munich and other university level institutions outside Bavaria to lure him away, he remained at Erlangen for more than fifty years. Reinhold Zippelius retired from his professorship at Erlangen in 1995.[2]

Zippelius is a full member of the Mainz based Academy of Sciences and Literature ("Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur").[3] In 2002 The Faculty of Scientific Theory and History at Athens University awarded him an honorary doctorate ("doctor honoris causa").[2]


His academic research is centred on constitutional law, theory of the state, along with legal philosophy and method.[2]

The "critical rationalism" provides the theoretical base for Zippelius' concept of law.

According to Zippelius law does not consist of "abstract" norms which are loosened from life, but it is "law in action", which is procreated by human action and thereby transformed into the reality of the contemporary culture.[4]

In terms of legal theory, his themes include, to solve legal problems with the assistence of key concepts, comparison of cases and the question of what counts as "right", especially as regards the validity of unfair laws.

In terms of theory of the state, his themes include the legitimation and cultivation of democracy, especially regarding the rule of law, and the oligarchic components of pluralistic democracy, furthermore the federalism (the limitation of authorities, the functioning and the democratic ambiguity of federalism) and the problems of the bureaucracy.

See also

James R. Maxeiner (translated Reinhard Zippelius (son of Reinhold)) Thinking like a lawyer abroad: putting justice into legal reasoning, Washington University Global Studies Law Review Vol 11/1, January 2012


  1. ^ Biographische Daten von Reinhold Zippelius in: Wer ist Wer – Das deutsche Who’s Who 2000/2001. 39. Ausgabe, Schmidt-Römhild, Verlagsgruppe Beleke, Lübeck 2000, ISBN 978-3-7950-2029-3, p. 1581.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Professor Dr. Reinhold Zippelius". Einrichtungen und Organe des Fachbereichs. Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Fachbereich Rechtswissenschaft). Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Prof. Dr. jur. Dr. h.c. Reinhold Zippelius". Die Mitglieder der Akademie und der Jungen Akademie. Die Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  4. ^ Zippelius, Rechtsphilosophie, 6th ed., § 4
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