The main focus of my work is the juridical mode in moral and political thought, more particularly the shared European heritage of natural law from Hugo Grotius in the early 17th century to the post-Kantians of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a subject of central importance for most aspects of the intellectual history of the period. However, while the subject has an ascertainable historical presence, its identity is deeply contested and demands a combination of philosophical, institutional and political history.

In 2010 I took the initiative to a major European project on early-modern natural law as an academic subject, which I am now directing in collaboration with Frank Grunert (Halle) and Diethelm Klippel (Bayreuth).: https://www.uni-erfurt.de/max-weber-kolleg/forschungsgruppen-und-stellen/forschungsstellen/natural-law-project/

The project encompasses

(1) An ambitious digitization programme of large amounts of materials, both printed and in manuscript, relating to the academic institutionalization of natural jurisprudence across Europe. Here our database draws on many existing projects.

(2) A digital and searchable database of instructors and institutions active in natural law and an associated bibliography. This will become publicly available in the autumn of 2019.

(3) An extensive international network of scholars who research and teach subjects within or relevant to the history of natural law.

(4) Regular conferences and workshops have been held annually since 2010.

(5) A book series, ‘Early Modern Natural Law: Studies and Sources’, published by Brill (Leiden) under the general editorship of the three directors. The first three titles are due in the autumn of 2019.

So far individual scholars and institutions (universities, research libraries, centers of advanced study) from thirteen European countries are affiliated with the project.