Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State

Research staff:

Prof. Kamil Zeidler (Head of the Department) [e-mail]

Prof. Jerzy Zajadło [e-mail]

Assoc. Prof. Oktawian Nawrot, DSc [e-mail]

Assoc. Prof. Tomasz Widłak, DSc [e-mail]

Magdalena Glanc-Żabiełowicz, PhD [e-mail]

Grzegorz Świst, PhD [e-mail]

Maciej Wojciechowski, DSc [e-mail]

Jarosław Niesiołowski, PhD [e-mail]

Paweł Sut, DSc [e-mail]

Karol Gregorczuk, MA [e-mail]

Wojciech Jankowski, MA [e-mail]

Martyna Zimmermann-Pepol, MA [e-mail]


Department secretary:

Wioletta Jeznach, MA


Research areas:
  • Theory and philosophy of law and legal logic
  • Hard cases: philosophy of law in legal practice
  • American case law on slavery
  • Legal aesthetics
  • Biojurisprudence and bioethics
  • Legal rhetoric and negotiations
  • Philosophy of constitutionalism and philosophy of international law

Scientific development and research of the Department
on the 50th Anniversary of the Faculty of Law and Administration (1970-2020)

The history of the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State is almost as long as the history of the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Gdańsk. The first organiser and the first head of the Division of Theory of Law and State, and subsequently, the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State, was prof. dr hab. Tomasz Langer.

The fact that the first head of the Department came from the Poznań community of state and law theorists and that he was a student of prof. Adam Łopatka, determined, to a large extent, the main research profile of the unit. Prof. Tomasz Langer addressed methodological issues in the field of Max Weber's studies of political and sociological thought, as well as issues of applications of system analysis in the science of state and law, resulting in a book: Amerykańska wersja analizy systemowej w nauce o państwie, Warszawa 1977. A little earlier, in 1976, his monograph Typ i forma państwa socjalistycznego was published. His research on the American political and legal system is also noteworthy – the result of which was e.g. the  monograph: Stany w USA. Instytucje - praktyka – doktryna, Warszawa 1988. Prof. Tomasz Langer was also author of the script for students: Wstęp do prawoznawstwa, Koszalin 1997,
 and his scholarly output also included dozens of articles.

During the first period of its development, the research focus of the Department was, on the one hand, on the general theory of state and politics, and on classical theoretical and legal issues on the other. Under the supervision of prof. Tomasz Langer, the Department staff conducted research on the political systems of the Nordic countries and the theory of social conflict (L. Starosta:  Podstawy prawne i funkcjonowanie systemu politycznego w Szwecji, Gdańsk 1977 and habilitation dissertation Konflikt społeczny a władza to państwie, Gdańsk 1987 and issues of the broad lawmaking (J. Jabłońska-Bonca: doctoral dissertation Dyrektywy and habilitation thesis Prawo powielaczowe. Studium z teorii państwa i prawa, Gdańsk 1987). In later years, prof. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca also undertook research on issues of cultural determinants of the law, which resulted in the monograph Prawo w kręgu mitów, Gdańsk 1995. Awarding her the title of Professor of Legal Sciences in 1997  was a very important event in the life of the Department. Titles of the principal works of the pupils and colleagues of prof. Thomas Langer clearly points out that there are two fundamental research currents in the Department: on the one hand, the research on state and political systems, and on the other, the research on various aspects of law as a normative system.

The very wide range of research carried out by Department members in the framework of these two main fields is best reflected in the doctoral dissertations prepared and defended in the years 1987-1998, which were promoted by prof. Tomasz Langer, prof. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca and dr Leszek Starosta: Leges imperfectae (dr Jarosław Niesiołowski, 1987), Samorząd terytorialny w II Rzeczypospolitej. Instytucja i doktryna (dr Roman Wójcik, 1987), Przymus i jego środki w prawie polskim (dr Ryszard Paszkiewicz, 1989), Granice prawa (dr Janusz Guść, 1996), Wolność słowa. Studium prawno-porównawcze (dr Adam Wiśniewski, 1996) and Państwo w doktrynie współczesnego konserwatyzmu brytyjskiego (dr Krzysztof Łokuciejewski, 1998).

During the first period of the existence of the Division, and later, the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State, the staff conducted teaching classes (lectures, seminars, workshops), mainly in two compulsory subjects: the introduction to jurisprudence and the theory of state and law. Over time, the Department's teaching offerings were expanded to include lectures in many additional subjects, e.g. the theory of political parties, the system of local government, the principles of lawmaking, and legal computer science.

The next phase of the Department's development involves the transfer of the Department's headquarters to a new building in Gdansk Oliwa in 2001, and then the appointment of prof. dr hab. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca as head of the Department. The teaching offer has also been greatly expanded: in addition to the subjects already taught, there have been lectures to choose from: the system of legal authorities, the methodology of giving legal advice, the theory of political parties and party systems, comparative law, and legal rhetoric. In June 2003, prof. dr hab. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca was succeeded by prof. dr hab. Michał Plachta, administrator and the Dean of the Faculty at the time, as head of the Department.

On the 1st of October 2005, prof. dr hab. Jerzy Zajadło took over as head of the Department. Organisational and personnel changes at the Department have significantly affected both the teaching process and the curriculum of the subjects taught by the staff. In addition to the classic course subjects of foundations of jurisprudence, logic, theory and philosophy of law, theory of the state and the local government system, the offer of lectures and seminars is becoming increasingly rich, today covering subjects such as philosophy, biology, bioethics and biomedicine, rhetoric, jurisprudence, and legal argumentation, law on the protection of monuments and cultural heritage, extrajudicial methods of dispute resolution, system and theory of local government, as well as global law, legal ethics, and human rights. Department staff also give several lectures at other faculties, mainly at the Faculty of Social Sciences (foundations of law for journalists, media law, and copyright law), the Faculty of Management (legal foundations of cultural activities), and the Faculty of Economics (fundamentals of law). Recently, the offer of courses taught by Department members in English for law students and the newly opened Criminology and Criminal Justice (and in previous years, for the European Business Administration, European and International Business Law, and the Polish Intenational Legal Studies Programme) has also significantly expanded. The Department staff also taught at postgraduate and doctoral studies (general methodology of legal sciences, theoretical and legal research methodology and logic, rhetoric and argumentation theory), at other universities, and at the national school of judiciary and prosecution.

The scope of the teaching activities has some influence on the subject of scientific research. The extension of the classical theory of law to philosophical-legal problems seems to be of particular importance, according to the formula commonly adopted today, that the philosophy of law sensu largo covers the theory of law (theoretical reason generalising the law as it is) and ethics of law (philosophy of law sensu stricto – practical reason analysing the law as it should be). According to this axis, the research interests of the individual Department members evolved with the rest - while the two strands (political-state and legal) were already in force, the division into theoretical and philosophical-legal issues can now be discussed. It should also be stressed that the combination of theory and philosophy of law corresponds to the contemporary trend in the Polish science of the subject, when, as before, textbooks separating theories of law from (e.g. S. Wronkowska, Z. Ziembiński) philosophy of law (e.g. R. Tokarczyk) dominated, so today the two fields are definitely connected (e.g. H. Izdebski, J. Oniszczuk, M. Szyszkowska). Nevertheless, research topics in the traditional philosophy of law, such as the relationship of law and morality, moralism and paternalism of law, boundaries in law, the common good, relations, rights and intimacy as an aspect of the right to privacy or the concept of truth in law, are still of great interest to Department members.

The main distinguishing feature of the current research profile of the Department is undoubtedly the interdisciplinarity of methods and the attempt to interest representatives of other departments in theoretical and philosophical issues. The first result of this approach was the preparation of the Leksykon współczesnej teorii i filozofii prawa. 100 podstawowych pojęć, Wyd. C. H. Beck, Warszawa 2007, by the staff of the Department with a significant involvement of the representatives of other Law departments. The study was revised and updated in 2017. In addition, in 2011, dr Sebastian Sykuna and prof. Jerzy Zajadło (Eds.) published the Leksykon protokołu dyplomatycznego. 100 podstawowych pojęć including the texts of some members of the Department, the Division of Human Rights, and the Department of Public International Law. In addition, it is worth mentioning that on the initiative of the editor of both of these volumes, prof. Jerzy Zajadło, the idea of publishing a series of similar lexicons has also been taken up by other departments dealing with e.g. labour law, financial law, environmental law, public economic law, administrative law, state and legal history, constitutional law, human rights or intellectual property. Their number has already exceeded thirty, and CH Beck publishing plans to publish more volumes in the future.

Another work of this kind was the collective encyclopaedia edited by professor Andrzej Bator, Jerzy Zajadło, and Marek Zirk Sadowski, entitled Wielka encyklopedia prawa, Vol. 7, Teoria i filozofia prawa (Warszawa 2016), published by the Ubi societas, ibi ius foundation in 2016. The authors of individual entries included all the Department staff at the time, as well as representatives of the Department of Civil Law and the Department of Maritime Law.

An important initiative for the Department was the release of the 2007 volume of Gdańskie Studia Prawnicze: Filozofia dogmatyk prawniczych and the 2016 Sprawiedliwość volume, in which the representatives of almost all Faculty Departments wrote their theoretical and philosophical-legal texts. Pointing to two possible perspectives: from the "inside" (i.e., what separate philosophy the various legal dogmatics have) and from the "outside" (i.e. how the practice of specific legal dogmatics affects the perception of the philosophical essence of the system of law as a whole) was highly innovative.

An equally important project, in addition to the current of interdisciplinary research, was the study entitled Fascynujące ścieżki filozofii prawa , edited by prof. Jerzy Zajadło, Wyd. Lexis Nexis, Warszawa 2008, in which representatives of various fields of law demonstrated the practical dimension of the philosophy of law through the analysis of various, so-called hard cases, in the relation of law and law, morality, customs, economics, ecology, politics, history, legal ethics, medicine, or science. This book, which has been awarded several times (e.g. the Rector's prize or the Johannes Hevelius Scientific Award of the City of Gdańsk, awarded individually to the author of the theory of hard cases, prof. dr hab.Jerzy Zajadło in 2017, proves the validity of the thesis that the so-called "hard cases" are not only complex situations occurring in the course of the application of law but also, in connection with its creation, enforcement and compliance. "Hard cases" occur primarily in the clash of law and morality, but also in other areas where  legal problems are linked to religion, politics, economics, ecology, legal ethics, scientific and technical progress, and even in the situation of a conflict of legal norms. As a result, hard cases concern not only the conflict of normative systems, but also "law versus history" or "law versus common sense", while their "solution" requires not only knowledge of the law and the legal workshop, but also life experience, deep erudition, and humanistic sensitivity. Thus, the author of the concept, prof. dr hab. Jerzy Zajadło, verified the thesis of the American judge O. W. Holmes who had stated that “hard cases make bad lawand proved that the opposite is true – that “hard cases make good law” and “hard cases make good lawyers.”

Recent research interests of prof. Jerzy Zajadło focus on the dilemmas of judicial conscience and judicial disobedience when examining cases concerning American slavery. The unique nature of these studies is that they are focused on judicial decisions, so that they bring Polish readers closer to the essence of American jurisprudence, show the role of ideology in the application of law, and introduce the concept of "judicial disobedience" into the study of law. They have been documented in two books entitled Sędziowie i niewolnicy (Gdańsk 2017) and Lord Mansfield. Sędzią być (Gdańsk 2018). For this first book, the professor was awarded the Leon Petrażycki scientific prize of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences in the field of law in 2017 and a distinction in the Jan Długosz Award (2018).

The current scientific interests of dr hab. Tomasz Widłak are also centered around a somewhat similar topic. He carries out the research project Sędziowie i cnoty. Studium aretycznej teorii sądownictwa funded by the OPUS award from the National Science Centre. The implementation of these studies is scheduled for 2019-2021. However, it should also be noted that the previous NCN grant awarded to dr hab. T. Widłak on neo-Kelsen theory of international law, implemented in the years 2017-2019 under the SONATA fund, resulted in the publication of the aforementioned monograph Teoria i filozofia prawa międzynarodowego Hansa Kelsena. Dr hab. Tomasz Widłak applied Kelsen's theorems formulated on the basis of the pure theory of law to problems of international law and showed its potential as a tool for resolving contemporary problems in this field of legal relations. He presented the results of his research during numerous trips abroad e.g. in Freiburg (2018).

Topics related to the protection of monuments and cultural heritage remain close to prof. dr. hab. Kamil Zeidler, as evidenced not only by the number of publications on the subject, but also by the fact that he held important functions in the bodies of organisations concerned with the protection of monuments. Prof. Kamil Zeidler is a member of the Council of the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property ICCROM for the period 2017-2021, a member of the Scientific Council of the Santander Art & Culture Law Review and the Muzealnictwo journal, and a member of the programme council of the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections. In recognition of his achievements in the field of cultural heritage protection law, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage awarded dr. hab. Kamil Zeidler, prof. UG. a bronze Medal for Merit to Culture Gloria Artis in 2016.

Another important area of scientific interest of prof. Kamil Zeidler are the issues of rhetoric and the art of negotiation that have resulted in the creation of several publications of national scope, among which the following deserve special attention: Leksykon retoryki prawniczej. 100 podstawowych pojęć (eds. P. Rybiński, K. Zeidler, Warszawa 2017, 2nd revised edition), including contributions from all members of the Department and also a book entitled Prawnik a sztuka retoryki i negocjacji, written together with prof. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca, which is one of the most respected textbooks for young lawyers, introducing to the study of rhetoric, negotiation, and communication theory.

Recently, the main area of interest of prof. Kamil Zeidler remains the aesthetics of law, which, alongside axiology, ontology, epistemology, ethics, and logic, is one of the most important branches of general philosophy. The adoption of this perspective for the study of law, however, is completely innovative and has not yet taken place in Polish and international law studies. It turns out, however, that the aesthetic aspects of law can have practical significance in all its five phenomena, namely: creation, enforcement, application, and interpretation, and that the aesthetics of law influence the formation of legal awareness and attitudes towards law. For his book Estetyka prawa (Gdańsk-Warsaw 2018), the author was nominated for the Jan Długosz Award (2019).

In addition to the above-mentioned scientific activity and some of the positions held, the staff of the Department undertake organisational and expert activities.

An important place in the research work of the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State is also the initiation of projects, for which representatives of other academic centers are invited. This tradition was initiated by prof. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca, as evidenced by the aforementioned vol. XII of Gdańskie Studia Prawnicze. In the years 2007-2009, studies on modern German philosophy of law were undertaken with the participation of legal theorists, philosophers, and sociologists from the Jagiellonian University, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, the University of Łódź, and the University of Warsaw. The result of this work is a three-volume study covering Dziedzictwo przeszłości. Gustaw Radbruch - portret filozofa, prawnika, polityka i humanisty (Jerzy Zajadło, Gdańsk 2007); Przyszłość dziedzictwa. Robert Alexy, Ralf Dreier, Jürgen Habermas, Offried Höffe, Arthur Kaufmann, Niklas Luhmann, Ota Weinberger-portrety filozofów prawa (Jerzy Zajadło (ed.), Gdańsk 2008); Dziedzictwo i przyszłość. Problemy współczesnej niemieckiej filozofii prawa (Jerzy Zajadło (ed.), Gdańsk 2010).

A continuation of this trend of research is the Horyzonty Filozofii Prawa series launched in 2016 by the publication of the book titled Radbruch by prof. dr hab. Jerzy Zajadło, and subsequent volumes devoted to the most prominent contemporary philosophers C. Schmitt, A. Kaufmann, H. Kantorowicz (2016, 2018, and 2019, respectively, prof. dr hab. Jerzy Zajadło), L. L. Fuller (2016, dr hab. Tomasz Widłak), H. Kelsen (2017, dr Monika Zalewska, UŁ), R. Pound (2018, dr hab. Grzegorz Wierczyński, prof. UG), Ch. Perelman (2018, dr hab. K. Zeidler, prof. UG, mgr Barbara Tecław). The following volumes devoted to the great philosophical-legal debates are fothcoming: dr Tomasz Snarski (Hart-Fuller debate) and dr Magdalena Glanc-Żabiełowicz (Hart-Devlin debate).

Apart from the abovementioned areas of research and studies, the following monographic and textbook publications of some Department members are to be pointed out: prof. Jerzy Zajadło: Po co prawnikom filozofia prawa (Warszawa 2008), Antologia tekstów dotyczących praw człowieka, (Warszawa 2008) and a series of columns published in the daily press as Felietony gorszego sortu (Sopot 2017 and 2018), prof. Oktawian Nawrot: Nienarodzony na ławie oskarżonych (Toruń 2007), Ludzka biogeneza w standardach bioetycznych Rady Europy (Warszawa 2011), Wprowadzenie do logiki dla prawników (Warszawa 2007); prof. S. Sykuna: Tortury w XXI wieku: Władza publiczna na granicy etyki, polityki i prawa (2013), Wykładnia prawa: tradycja i perspektywy (Warszawa 2016, with M. Hermann); prof. Kamil Zeidler: Prawo ochrony dziedzictwa kultury, (Warszawa 2007), Wykład prawa dla archeologów (Warszawa 2009), Restitution of cultural property: hard case, theory of argumentation, philosophy of law (2016), Zabytki. Prawo i praktyka (2017); dr hab. Tomasz Widłak: Wspólnota miedzynarodowa (2012), From International Society to International Community. The Constitutional Evolution of International Law (2015); dr Paweł Sut: Relacje prawo-intymność jako przedmiotp prawniczej refleksji (Gdańsk, 2019). We should also mention several volumes, co-edited by the Department staff: Prawo muzeów (Warszawa 2008, dr Kamil Zeidler), Bezpieczeństwo międzynarodowe. Szanse i zagrożenia (Gdańsk 2009, prof. Jerzy Zajadło, dr Sebastian Sykuna), Konwergencja czy dywergencja kultur i systemów prawnych? Gdańsk 2016 (eds. O. Nawrot, S. Sykuna, J. Zajadło, Warszawa 2012), Philosophy of Law. The Basic Concepts (Gdańsk 2016, eds. J. Zajadło, K. Zeidler) and Prawo i literatura. Parerga (Gdańsk 2019,  eds. J. Zajadło, K. Zeidler).

It is also important to mention the work prepared by the staff of the Department (prof. Jerzy. Zajadło, prof. Oktawian Nawrot, prof. Sebastian Sykuna, prof. Kamil Zeidler, dr Magdalena Glanc-Żabiełowicz, mgr Nicholas Cieslewicz) together with dr Jacek Dmowski from the Department of Civil Law and mgr Jan Opolski from the Department of Classical Philology: Łacińska terminologia prawnicza, (Warszawa, 2009, 2019), recently revised and re-published.

The search for contacts with other national and foreign research centres has a rather long tradition in the Department. It was initiated by prof. Tomasz Langer, inviting eminent theorists and philosophers of law as guest lecturers, e.g. prof. Jerzy Wróblewski from the University of Łódź and prof. Hannu T. Klami, University of Turku. This initiative was later continued by prof. Jolanta Jabłońska-Bonca (invitation of prof. Adam Czarnota from the University of New South Wales, Australia and prof. Maciej Zieliński from the University of Szczecin), and prof. Jerzy Zajadło (invitation of prof. Maria Szyszkowska from the University of Warsaw, prof. Klaus Adomeit from the University of Berlin and (together with the Department of Constitutional Law) prof. Herbert Schambeck, University of Linz), prof. Natalia Parkhomenko and prof. Mikhail Shumylo of the Institute of state and law of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv and prof. Toshiyuki Kono and prof. Ren Yatsunami of Kyushu University. These meetings resulted in participation in foreign seminars and international publications that document the cooperation.

The participation of Department members in national and international academic exchange forums has a much wider dimension, it should be noted that Department staff regularly participate in the Proceedings of the World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), an organisation with which all members of the Department are affiliated. The purpose of the Polish section of the Association and at the same time the object of its activities is to nurture and support the development of the philosophy of law and social philosophy in the national and international forum.




The project is financed by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange


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Submitted on Monday, 22. March 2021 - 14:59 by Sławomir Dajkowski Changed on Thursday, 28. October 2021 - 15:40 by Sławomir Dajkowski