People encounter normativity in many different guises; norms of various kinds regulate their conduct and make society possible. Among its juridical guises, law, injunction, and contract are possibly primary types (Hasso Hofmann). Jurisprudence has always been preoccupied with questions of the typology and hierarchy of the sources of law; it is devoted to the order of norms of the legal type and tries to develop rules governing conflicts of laws. But there are other forms of normativity as well: social rules and moral injunctions seem to be the main types, others being religious law and technical norms. The labels change their meaning and their semantics partially overlap. They fulfill different functions but share the claim to regulate human conduct.

The project involving the PIs Armin von Bogdandy, Thomas Duve, Klaus Günther, and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann dealt with systematic and legal-historical aspects of the phenomenon of multinormativity. Meetings during the initial phase served to clarify the concept of multinormativity. The concept was deliberately conceived in a broad sense rather than being restricted from the outset to the phenomenon of law or to a specific claim to validity or legitimacy.

For the annual conference of the Cluster of Excellence in 2014, the Multinormativity Project organized a panel that linked the theoretical and empirical dimensions of the field (directed by Thomas Duve [MPI for European Legal History]; presentations by Marie Claire Foblets [MPI for Social Anthropology, Halle], Stefan Kroll [EXC Formation of Normative Orders, Frankfurt am Main] and Milos Vec [University of Vienna].)

The part of the project devoted to legal history, located at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (MPIeR), dealt with the description and analysis of the coexistence, cooperation, and collision of different normativities in given historical constellations. Methodologically speaking, it was a question of integrating analytical approaches of jurisprudence, but also approaches from theology, philosophy, sociology, political science and social anthropology, into the historical work and of developing a transdisciplinary conceptual framework.

The first phase of the project was devoted to intensive discussions of the question of multinormativity, which was anchored in the medium-term research plans of the research concentration. The research concentration of the Max Planck Institute supervises, structures and develops the projects carried out within the Institute in the individual research areas with a view to the main theme. This made it possible to generate knowledge concerning significant historical constellations of multinormativity and to introduce it into the work of the project network at the level of the Cluster of Excellence. One focus was on early modern Latin America, with its characteristic boundary zones and hybridizations. A second aspect dealt with issues of “private legislation” and the dimensions of the juridical decision-making system directed to these questions. What is involved are innovations in the normative domain that accompany the development of modern economic society and, at the level of constitutional history, contribute to shaping the reorientation from government the governance. The Institute was able to draw upon its international relationships to promote the Multinormativity Project by involving foreign visiting scholars and doctoral fellows in the research. Thus “Multinormativity” was the main theme of the Summer Academy of the MPIeR in 2016. Moreover, this year (2017) the thematic focus of the journal Rechtsgeschichte published by the Max Planck Institute will be on the subject of multinormativity.

The contribution of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) under Armin von Bogdandy dealt with multinormativity, above all from a systematic perspective. This is especially true of a project on dogmatics that originated in a collaboration with researchers from the Faculties of Law and Theology at the University of Heidelberg. In theology and law, dogmatics provides a conceptual template for processing inconsistencies internal to law or theology. At the same time, dogmatics is sensitive to normativities of other disciplines as these are applied to it. The aim of this collaboration is to develop a conception of dogmatics derived from interdisciplinary learning for public law and for (Protestant) theology that is appropriate for pluralistic, globalized and multireligious societies. This research was supported within the Cluster by a panel on “Dogmatics – Apology or Criticism of Normativity?” conducted by Matthias Goldmann and Dana Schmalz at the Young Researchers’ Conference in 2013. The lectures were published in the journal Staat (2014, Vol. 53, issue 3). In addition, the MPIL is conducting a large-scale project on Latin America aimed at structuring Latin American constitutionalism through shared principles and developing it in a progressive direction. This project gave rise to collaborations with PI Thomas Duve that were reflected, among other things, in conference presentations.

The systematic research in the history of philosophy and the lectures and workshops of PI Matthias Lutz-Bachmann focused on fundamental problems of the normative legitimization and delegitimization of political rule, as well as on questions of the justification of a philosophical ethical theory, especially as they bear on issues of human rights and human dignity. In this context relevant publications were prepared and in part completed for publication, some of them in cooperation with colleagues from legal studies, political science, general history and theology. Crucial for these research activities was the close cooperation with the above-mentioned colleagues from the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders.” With regard to the promotion of early career researchers, it should be noted that five candidates for habilitation worked on their dissertations in the context of the work of the PI.

In Klaus Günther’s subproject, the studies on legal pluralism already begun during the first funding period were continued within the now extended perspective on multinormativity and were supplemented with a critique of normative pluralism. Central to this research was the controversy with the authors Schiff Berman and Gunther Teubner. Schiff Berman’s theory of “management of hybridity” together with Teubner’s proposal concerning a decentralized collision norm generated internally by the individual global subsystems, which is supposed to resolve conflicts with the rationalities proper to the other systems, were subjected to immanent criticism. This primarily involved showing that the two authors can formulate their proposals only by presupposing an assumed, at least hypothetical and fictive, universalistic meta-norm. The current state of this research is documented in the article on “Normative Legal Pluralism.”

The discussion of this essay at two international conferences in Belo Horizonte in 2015 and in Cartagena in 2016 prompted suggestions to develop this meta-norm further in the direction of a rule of recognition of global law. Initial reflections along these lines were developed in an essay on Habermas’ system of rights. Parallel to this, the Multinormativity Panel and the subsequent discussion at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Cluster in particular provided the initial impulse for a study on the multinormative contexts of the application of norms. Norms do not exist on their own in the abstract and without context; they are always embedded in multinormative contexts of moral, legal, religious, political and ethical kinds, and are also connected with epistemic norms and rules of prudence. In these multinormative contexts, norms and normative orders support and explicate each other – always in temporally, factually and socially concretized constellations. They form a concrete, particular network of historically situated, locally and situationally available behavioral requirements. In particular cases, there is the problem that no one in the given situation is able to gain an overview of these multinormative references. This deficit is offset by justification narratives. They bundle and interpret multinormative references in such a way that they interpret and justify individual norms and normative orders with a view to the specific historical situation of a particular lifeworld. The current state of this research is documented by the article on parapractical justification narratives.

The most important publications of this project:

Duve, Thomas: “Salamanca in Amerika“, in: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Germanistische Abteilung 132, 2015, pp. 116–151.

Duve, Thomas: “Entanglements in Legal History. Introductory Remarks” and “European Legal History – Concepts, Methods, Challenges”, in: T. Duve (ed.): Entanglements in Legal History: Conceptual Approaches, Global Perspectives on Legal History, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Open Access Publication, Frankfurt am Main, 2014, pp. 3–25, pp. 29–66, [online] [05.10.2017].

Günther, Klaus: “Parapraktische Rechtfertigungsnarrative“, in: Jochen Schuff and Martin Seel (eds.): Erzählungen und Gegenerzählungen. Terror und Krieg im Kino des 21. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, 2016, pp. 101–124.

Günther, Klaus: Normativer Rechtspluralismus – eine Kritik, Normative Orders Working Paper 03/2014, [online] [05.10.2017].

Goldmann, Matthias: Internationale öffentliche Gewalt, Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer, 2015.

Lutz-Bachmann, Matthias: “Does ‚ius cogens‘ exist in International Relations? Philosophical remarks to the Encyclical ‚Pacem in terris‘“, in: H.-G. Justenhoven/M.E. O’Connell: Peace through Law: Can Humanity Overcome War?, New York: Bloomsbury, 2016, pp. 65–82.

von Bogdandy, Armin/ M. Goldmann / I. Venzke: “From Public International to International Public Law: Translating World Public Opinion into International Public Authority”, in: European Journal of International Law 28(1), 2017, pp. 115–145.

von Bogdandy, Armin and Ingo Venzke: In wessen Namen? Internationale Gerichte in Zeiten globalen Regierens, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2014. English Translation: In Whose Name?, Oxford: University Press, 2014.


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