My research interests cover a wide range, both in themes and in disciplines. I studied law and moral philosophy, and have a strong interest in sociology and social theory. In my research I try to combine these three disciplines. There are five major themes in my research.

Legal scholarship and ethics as hermeneutic, normative, and empirical interdisciplines

Throughout my career, a recurring theme in my teaching and in my research has been the methodology of ethical and legal research. Initially, I studied methods in ethics and developed constructivist and pragmatist interpretations of reflective equilibrium (Reflective Equilibrium 1998; ‘Dynamic Ethics’ 2003). Following my move to Tilburg Law School, I focused on methodological issues of law as an interdisciplinary discipline. Three sabbaticals in Sydney and London enabled me to explore this theme in depth and it is now the core theme of my research. With Sanne Taekema, I am currently writing a book on the methods of law-in-context research. We advocate the integration of doctrinal research, empirical research and the humanities, especially legal philosophy and ethics. Core publications on this theme:

  • ‘Legal Philosophy as an Enrichment of Doctrinal Research Part I: Introducing Three Philosophical Methods’, Law and Method (2020), 1-20. doi: 10.5553/REM/.000046 (with Sanne Taekema)
  • ‘The Merits of Law. An Argumentative Framework for Evaluative Judgments and Normative Recommendations in Legal Research’, Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 105(2019)1, 11-43.
  • Two special issues Erasmus Law Review: The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research, with S. Taekema (eds.).
    • Part 1: Theoretical Discussions, 8(2015)2, 39-78.
    • Part 2: Case Studies 8(2015)3, 79-138.
  • ‘Towards a Fruitful Cooperation between Legal Philosophy, Legal Sociology and Doctrinal Research: How Legal Interactionism May Bridge Unproductive Oppositions’, in: R. Nobles and D. Schiff (eds.) Law, Society and Community. Socio-Legal Essays in Honour of Roger Cotterrell, Farnham: Ashgate 2014, 129-145, with S. Taekema.
  • ‘Dynamic Ethics’, Journal of Value Inquiry 37(2003), 12-34.
  • Reflective Equilibrium. Essays in Honour of Robert Heeger, Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998, with T. van Willigenburg (eds.)

Democracy, rule of law and civil disobedience through the lens of global legal pluralism

A new focus is the theme of global legal pluralism as a new lens through which I look at issues like civil disobedience and democracy. Civil disobedience and other civil actions are increasingly oriented towards businesses and markets rather than the state. Multinational companies or organizations like the IOC can be seen as constituting legal orders that should be oriented towards values like justice, rule of law and democracy. In this project, I am partly revisiting my older research through this new lens. Core publications:

  • ‘Conceptual Theories of Law and the Challenges of Global Legal Pluralism: A Legal Interactionist Approach’ (in: Paul Schiff Berman (ed.) Oxford Handbook on Global Legal Pluralism, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020, pp. 319-338.
  • ‘The Emerging Interactionist Paradigm and the Ideals of Democracy and Rule of Law’, in: B. van Klink, B. van Beers and L. Poort (eds.), Symbolic Legislation Theory and Developments in Biolaw, Dordrecht: Springer 2016 (Legisprudence Library), 37-53.
  • Het democratisch perspectief. Een verkenning van de normatieve grondslagen der democratie (dissertatie Utrecht), Arnhem: Gouda Quint 1991. [‘The democratic point of view. An exploration of the normative basis of democracy’]
  • ‘The Myth of Civil Disobedience’, Praxis International, (1989), 287-304.
  • Een andere visie op burgerlijke ongehoorzaamheid (Kluwer Post Scriptum 1986), Deventer: Kluwer etc. 1986. [‘A different view on civil disobedience’]

The dynamic relation between law and morality

This has been a central theme of my research since I wrote my master’s thesis on civil disobedience (published in 1986). With Pieter Ippel, I edited a book on the relation between law and morality in the field of biomedicine, De Siamese tweeling (1994). Two more recent perspectives in this research are the themes of dynamics and pluralism. How can we understand dynamics and pluralism in law and morality, and how can law and morality deal with them? How may the academic disciplines of law and ethics respond to the phenomena of global legal pluralism and legal and moral change? This was the theme of my Tilburg inaugural lecture Dynamic Law (2001) and my article ‘Dynamic Ethics’ (2003). In this context I studied interactionist views on law such as those of Lon L. Fuller (Rediscovering Fuller 1999) and Philip Selznick, as well as communicative and interactive approaches of legislation. This research line has resulted in my book The Dynamics of Law and Morality. Core publications on this theme:

  • The Dynamics of Law and Morality. A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism, Farnham: Ashgate 2014. (pb: Routledge 2016)
  • Dynamisch recht. De interactie tussen recht, ethiek en samenleving (oratie Tilburg), Den Haag: Boom Juridische uitgevers 2001. [‘Dynamic law. The interaction between law, ethics and society’]
  • ‘The Expressive and the Communicative Functions of Law’, Law and Philosophy, 20(2001)1, 31-59.
  • Rediscovering Fuller. Essays on Implicit Law and Institutional Design, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 1999, with W.J. Witteveen (eds.).
  • ‘Bioethics and Law: A Developmental Perspective’, Bioethics 11(1997)2, 91-114.
  • De Siamese tweeling: recht en moraal in de biomedische praktijk, Assen: Van Gorcum 1994, with P. Ippel (eds.). [‘Siamese twins. Law and morality in biomedical practice’]

Democracy, the rule of law and (cultural and religious) diversity

In my doctoral dissertation A democratic point of view (1991) a central theme was how a democracy should deal with cultural and religious differences and with differences in gender and sexual orientation. Since then, this has been a recurrent theme in my research. More recent publications are the book On religion, morality and politics. A liberal alternative (2005), the ‘preadvies’ for the Dutch Lawyers Association ‘Cultural diversity and the democratic state with a rule of law’ (2008), my Rotterdam inaugural lecture The ideal of the neutral state (2009), and a number of articles on state neutrality and the separation of state and church (e.g., ‘What is neutrality?’ 2014). I have also contributed to the Dutch public debate on cultural and religious diversity through many public lectures and publications for a broader public. Core publications on this theme:

  • ‘Social Change and the Accommodation of Religious Minorities in the Netherlands: New Diversity and Its Implications for Constitutional Rights and Principles’, Journal of Law, Religion and State, 8(2020)1, 1-33. DOI: 10.1163/22124810-201900 (with Wouter de Been)
  • ‘What Is Neutrality?’, Ratio Juris 27(2014)4, 496-515, with Roland Pierik.
  • Het ideaal van de neutrale staat. Inclusieve, exclusieve en compenserende visies op godsdienst en cultuur (oratie Rotterdam), Den Haag: BJU, 2009. [‘The ideal of the neutral state. Inclusive, exclusive and compensatory views on religion and culture’]
  • ‘Culturele diversiteit en de democratische rechtsstaat’, in: W. van der Burg, C.J.M. Schuyt en J.H. Nieuwenhuis, Multiculturaliteit en recht (Preadviezen Nederlandse Juristenvereniging 2008), Deventer: Kluwer, 1-62. [‘Cultural diversity and the democratic state with a rule of law’]
  • ‘The Irony of a Symbolic Crusade: The Debate on Opening Up Civil Marriage to Same-Sex Couples’, in: N. Zeegers, W. Witteveen and B. van Klink (eds.), Social and Symbolic Effects of Legislation Under the Rule of Law, Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press 2005, 245-275
  • Over religie, moraal en politiek. Een vrijzinnig alternatief, Kampen: Ten Have 2005. [‘On religion, morality and politics. A liberal alternative’]
  • ‘Beliefs, Persons and Practices: Beyond Tolerance’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1(1998)2, 227-254.

Ideals in law, morality, and politics

Ideals are a neglected category in morality, law and politics (and in academic theories of those fields.) They play an important role in the dynamics of law, morality, and politics, in pluralism and debates and in the understanding of the interaction between law and ethics. Between 1996 and 2001, I led a research group of more than twenty researchers on this theme, financed by a NWO-PIONIER grant. The concluding book was The Importance of Ideals. Core publications on this theme:

  • The Importance of Ideals: Debating Their Relevance in Law, Morality, and Politics, Bruxelles, etc.: Peter Lang 2004, with S. Taekema (eds.).
  • De verbeelding aan het werk. Pleidooi voor een realistisch idealisme, Kampen: Agora 2001. [‘The imagination put into practice. An argument for realistic idealism’
  • Over idealen. Het belang van idealen in recht, moraal en politiek, Deventer: W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink 1998, with F.W.A. Brom (eds.). (VIII + 226 p.) [‘On Ideals. The importance of ideals in law, morality and politics’]
  • ‘The Importance of Ideals’, Journal of Value Inquiry, 31(1997), 23-37.
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