Reinhold Zippelius

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Reinhold Zippelius (born May 19, 1928 in Ansbach ) is a German lawyer and legal scholar . He is professor emeritus for legal philosophy and public law at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg .


Zippelius studied law from 1947 in Würzburg and Erlangen and from 1949 to 1951 as a scholarship holder of the Maximilianeum at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , where he received his doctorate in 1953. After the state examination in law, he was in the Bavarian ministerial service from 1956 to 1963, most recently as a senior councilor in the Ministry of the Interior . In addition , he completed his habilitation in 1961 at the University of Munich with Karl Engisch . In 1963 he was appointed to the chair for legal philosophy , state , administrative and church law in Erlangen. He received further appointments (which he did not accept) at the University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer (1966) and at the Universities of Cologne (1966), Munich (1968) and Göttingen (1972). He has been retired since 1995. Ursula Köbl, Thomas Würtenberger and Joachim Lege are among his students and later specialist colleagues .

Zippelius is a full member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz and an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy of Science at the National University of Athens .

Work area

The scientific focus of his work lies in the areas of constitutional law, general political theory , legal philosophy and methodology . Several of his books have been translated into other languages.

Scientifically, he is close to the philosophy of science of Karl Popper , with whom he was also in a personal exchange of ideas. He expanded the field of application of Popper's method to include law. He is of the opinion that many advances in law and legal thought take place according to the method of critical rationalism and "the search for the concept of law, for its references to reality and to justice , progresses experimentally by designing solutions to problems , review and improve ”.

From his point of view, a legal system is not a structure of “abstract” norms that are detached from life (abs-tractae), but law in action, which is “brought to bear ” through human action and is integrated into the everyday reality of the respective culture and whose zeitgeist adds.

In legal theory, he deals with the concept of law , the structuring of legal considerations through key terms , the principle of equality as a guide for legal development and the question of legal validity, especially the validity of unjust laws .

In the theory of the state his topics include a. “ State and society ”, then the legitimation and cultivation of democracy (especially the rule of law ), furthermore the oligarchic components of pluralistic democracy, federalism (questions of demarcation , functions and democratic ambivalence of federalism) and the problem of bureaucracy .

Publications (selection)


  • Richard Bartlsperger : Reinhold Zippelius on his 70th birthday. In: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 1998, issue 21, p. 1542 f.
  • Thomas Würtenberger: Reinhold Zippelius on his 75th birthday. In: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 2003, issue 21, p. 1503.
  • Thomas Würtenberger : Reinhold Zippelius on his 80th birthday. In: Juristentung , Vol. 63 (2008), Issue 10, p. 509.
  • Matthias Jestaedt : Reinhold Zippelius on his 80th birthday. In: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 2008, issue 21, p. 1502.
  • Joachim Lege: Reinhold Zippelius on his 90th birthday. In: Juristenteitung , vol. 73 (2018), issue 10, p. 508 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Biographical data of Reinhold Zippelius in: Who is who - The German Who's Who 2000/2001 . 39th edition, Schmidt-Römhild, Verlagsgruppe Beleke, Lübeck 2000, ISBN 978-3-7950-2029-3 , p. 1581.
  2. ^ Member entry of Reinhold Zippelius at the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz, accessed on November 6, 2017
  3. Zippelius, Legal Philosophy , 6th edition, foreword and § 11 III 1.
  4. ↑ On this legal validity , also Zippelius, Legal Philosophy, 6th edition, § 4