Robert Alexy

Robert Alexy ( born September 9, 1945 in Oldenburg iO ) is a German jurist and philosopher. Within the German constitutional law and legal theory, he has made particularly by its inspired by Ronald Dworkin distinction between rules and principles, and its influenced by Habermas contributions to the discourse theory of law a name. International Alexy has appeared primarily as a representative of an inclusive moral principles based on the legal concept of Radbruch 's formula and as a critic of legal positivism.


Alexy was on September 9, 1945 in Oldenburg iO born. After graduation he served three years service in the Bundeswehr, the last year as a lieutenant. In the summer semester 1968 Alexy began the study of law and philosophy at the Georg- August-Universität Göttingen. His academic teachers were especially Günther Patzig in philosophy and legal philosopher Ralf Dreier in the field of legal science. Since Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and Gottlob Frege form the foundation of his philosophical and jurisprudential work. Among the legal philosopher Hans Kelsen play, HLA Hart, Gustav Radbruch and Alf Ross Alexy for a particular role.

After the first legal state examination in 1973 to 1976 Alexy worked on his dissertation " theory of legal argumentation ." In 1982 he received the Prize of Philology and History class of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen for this first time in 1978 in the print published study. In 1976 he took on the legal training, which he finished in 1978 with the second legal state examination. After that, he was until 1984 an assistant to Ralf Dreier at the Chair of Legal Theory in Göttingen. In 1984 he qualified as a professor at the Law Faculty of the University of Göttingen for the subjects of public law and legal philosophy. The topic of his habilitation thesis is: "Theory of Fundamental Rights ".

This was followed in professors in Regensburg and Kiel. After the rejection of a call to the University of Regensburg, he took over in 1986 to the chair at the Christian -Albrechts -University of Kiel. In March 1991 he refused a professorship at the Karl- Franzens- University Graz to (successor Ota Weinberger). He was 1994-1998 President of the German Section of the International Association of Legal and Social Philosophy. In 1992 the book " concept and application of the law". In 1997 he received an appointment at the Georg-August -Universität Göttingen (successor Ralf Dreier), which he refused in February 1998. He is since 2002 a full member of Philology and History class of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen.

In 2008 he the universities of Alicante ( Spain ), Buenos Aires ( Argentina) and Tucumán (Argentina ) awarded an honorary doctorate. In the years 2009 and 2010, followed by other honorary doctorates, awarded by the University of Antwerp, the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos ( Lima) and the Universidad Ricardo Palma ( Lima). 14 June 2012 marks him the Universidade Federal do Piauí (Brazil ) awarded an honorary doctorate. On October 17, 2012 him an honorary doctorate from the Charles University in Prague was awarded. On October 31, the University of Coimbra awarded him an honorary doctorate. On 13 April 2010 Alexy was awarded the Cross of Merit 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. On June 30, 2013 Alexy was awarded the Kieler Science Award.

End of September 2013 Alexy became Professor Emeritus.


Alexys jurisprudential and legal philosophical work is committed to the clarity postulate of analytic philosophy in language and a systematic point and revolves mainly around three themes: the theoretical basis and analysis of legal argumentation, the general structure of fundamental and human rights and to the concept of law.

Theory of legal argumentation

Main thesis of his dissertation " theory of legal reasoning " is that legal discourse is to be regarded as a special case of the general practical discourse. In the first part of the thesis presents Alexy different theories of practical discourse are dar. discussed included the language- philosophical foundations of Wittgenstein and Austin and the consensus theory of truth Habermas. In the second part of the work Alexy makes the lessons learned for the legal methodology fruitful. Alexy postulated that in the legal decision justification - at least theoretically - there is a distinction between internal and external justification. The internal justification is consistent with the Justizsyllogismus, so have a deductive structure. Condition for the internal justification is that at least one premise constitutes a universal norm, as far as possible is a legal standard and it constitutes a consistent set of premises. The justification of the assumptions of the internal justification was taking place in the external justification.

Theory of fundamental rights

Following the distinction of the American legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin between rules and principles, the main thesis of Alexys habilitation thesis "Theory of Fundamental Rights " is that fundamental rights are to be understood as principles. After Alexy principles are norms that command that something is realized in a relatively on the legal and factual possibilities highest possible degree. Principles are optimization commandments. Based on these principles doctrine is Alexys balancing law to understand which plays a crucial role in the context of the proportionality test of fundamental rights ". Higher the degree of non-performance or impairment of the one principle, the greater must be the importance of the fulfillment of the other be " It follows turn the collision law: " the conditions under which the one principle has priority over the other, form the facts of a rule, which expresses the legal consequence of the foregoing principle. "

Term and validity of law

In the book concept and validity of the right to Alexy committed to Nichtpositivimus. It represents the connection thesis, according to which the concept of law is to be defined so that it includes moral elements. Here Alexy restricts the moral requirements of the law for the sake of conceptual clarity to a minimum law for Alexy thus

Alexy explains the connection thesis with the correctness argument (see the following paragraph), the wrong argument ( = argument in favor of Unerträglichkeitsversion of Radbruch 's formula ) and the treasury to Ronald Dworkin and Alexy 's theory of fundamental rights ensuing principles argument ( necessary moral implications of existing and from principles of the legal system ).

The crucial role in reasoning Alexys comes to the correctness argument. According to this raise both individual legal norms and individual legal decisions and legal systems throughout nature necessarily claim to be correct. Standard systems that do not make this claim explicitly or implicitly, are not legal systems. The first article of the Constitution could not be, for example:

  • " X is a sovereign, federal, and unjust republic. "

Nor should a judge give a ruling following tenor:

  • "The defendant is, what is a wrong interpretation of the applicable law, was sentenced to life imprisonment. "

The above-mentioned fictitious " Article of the Constitution " and cited " judgment " are, according to Alexy logically flawed, since they involve a performative contradiction. With the concept of performative contradiction to Alexy refers to ideas of the English philosopher John Langshaw Austin and the created of this prime example of a performative contradictory statement " The cat is on the mat, but I do not believe it is" ( " The cat is on the mat, but I do not believe it "). From the correctness argument thus follows that in every legal system, which encloses no performative contradictions, there is a necessary connection between law and " any " form of morality. This is demonstrated for a conceptual Alexy necessary connection between law and morality.


Among Alexys students Jan- Reinard Sieck ( Otto -Friedrich- University of Bamberg ), Matthias Klatt ( University of Hamburg), Nils Jansen (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), Mattias Kumm (New York University School of Law, Social Science Research Center Berlin and the Humboldt University Berlin), Martin Borowski ( Ruprecht -Karls -Universität Heidelberg ), Jochen Bittner (Time Magazine), and Virgilio Afonso da Silva (University of São Paulo)


The scientific work of Robert Alexy has more than 120 publications that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A complete list of his publications can be found on the websites of his chair at the University of Kiel. The most important work:

  • Theory of legal argumentation. The theory of rational discourse as theory of legal reasoning, Frankfurt aM 1983 ( first edition 1978)
  • Theory of fundamental rights, Frankfurt aM 1994 ( first edition 1986) ISBN 3-518-28182-8
  • Concept and application of the law. Freiburg and Munich 1992, ISBN 978-3-495-48063-2.
  • Wall shooters. On the relationship between law, morality and criminality. Hamburg 1993, ISBN 978-3-525-86282-7.
  • Law, reason, discourse. Frankfurt q.s. 1995, ISBN 978-3-518-28767-5.
  • The decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the killings at the inner- German border on 24 October 1996. Hamburg 1997, ISBN 978-3-525-86293-3.
  • Robert Alexy, Hans- Joachim Koch, Lothar Kuhlen, Helmut Rüßmann: elements of a legal justification doctrine. Baden -Baden 2003, ISBN 978-3-7890-8397-6.