School of Law

Professor Wibren van der Burg, Dr. philosophy, Utrecht University 1991; Mr. (LLM) Dutch law Utrecht University 1985; Drs. (master) philosophy, Utrecht University 1985


Room Number: Mile End


Wibren van der Burg is visiting professor at QMUL since 2014. At Queen Mary, he teaches Ph.D. seminars about the methodology of legal research. Since 2008, he is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Prior to Rotterdam, he was Professor of Jurisprudence at Tilburg University, and worked in Utrecht at the Centre for Bioethics and Health Law and at the Department of Philosophy.

Professor van der Burg has broad ranging research interests at the intersection of law, ethics and society. His most recent book is ‘The Dynamics of Law and Morality: A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism’ (Ashgate 2014/ Routledge 2016), which, building on the work of Lon Fuller and Philip Selznick, discusses, inter alia, the concept of global legal pluralism. A special focus in his research is on how law and politics should deal with the dynamics of cultural and religious pluralism; see his article (with Roland Pierik) ‘What Is Neutrality?’ (Ratio Juris 2014). A third focus is on methods of interdisciplinary legal research and legal philosophy; see his article ‘The Merits of Law. An Argumentative Framework for Evaluative Judgments and Normative Recommendations in Legal Research’ (ARSP 2019).

For a full CV, see website:

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Ph.D. seminars on methods of interdisciplinary legal research and on methods of legal philosophy


Wibren van der Burg’s research interests cover a wide range, both in themes and in disciplines. He studied law and ethics, and has a strong interest in sociology and social theory. In his research he tries to combine these three disciplines. There are currently three major themes in his research.

The dynamic relation between law and morality

This is the central theme of his research since he wrote his master’s thesis on civil disobedience. A core publication is The Dynamics of Law and Morality. A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism (Ashgate 2014/ pb Routledge 2016).

Legal scholarship as a hermeneutic, normative, and empirical interdiscipline

The starting point of this project is the methodological deficit in legal doctrinal research: namely, the fact that the academic discipline of law lacks generally accepted and rigorous research methods. One central question is how we can incorporate other disciplines and their findings into legal doctrinal research. A second central question is how to justify evaluative judgments and normative recommendations for law reform in legal research. The third question is how doctrinal scholars can include legal philosophy in their research.

Democracy and the rule of law: private actors and public interests

Global legal pluralism presents many challenges to the rule of law. One of them is how we can understand the interaction between the public and the private. Private actors, such as businesses, NGOs, citizens and protest groups, are central in realizing public interests. For example, instances of civil disobedience may be characterized by private actors’ assessment that they, under circumstances, may secure public interests better than do public authorities.


Examples of research funding:

Since 1995, Wibren van der Burg has been the main applicant or co-applicant for six major grants by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research - NWO

  • ‘Reconstructing Political Philosophy and Legal Doctrine: Doing Justice to Dynamics and Hybrid Identifications’ 2009-2014 (€ 600.000)
  • ‘The good professional: on (self) regulation, ideals and professional morality’ - 2005- 2009 (€ 243.000)
  • The implications of globalization and the permeability of legal and political orders for liberal political theory’ - 2001-2005 (€ 191.000)
  • ‘Policies with regard to newcomers from a liberal democratic perspective’ - 1997-2000  (± € 160.000)
  • PIONIER-program ‘The importance of ideals in law, morality and politics’ - 1996-2001 (± € 900.000 NWO, plus ± € 1.000.000 matched funding)
  • ‘Ideals in legal theory’ - 1995-1999 ( ± €100.000 euro).


Since 2014


  • The Dynamics of Law and Morality. A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism, Farnham: Ashgate 2014. (xiii + 186 pp) (pb: Routledge 2016)

Edited special issues

  •  Erasmus Law Review: The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research, two special issues, edited with S. Taekema

    • Part 1: Theoretical Discussions, 8(2015)2, 39-78.
    • Part 2: Case Studies 8(2015)3, 79-138.


  • ‘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.
  • ‘Legal Philosophy as an Enrichment of Doctrinal Research Part I: Introducing Three Philosophical Methods’, Law and Method 2020 (with S. 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.
  • ‘Law as a Second-Order Essentially Contested Concept’, Jurisprudence 8(2017)2, 230-256.
  • ‘The Need for Audacious Fully Armed Legal Scholars: Concluding Reflections’, in: Taekema, B. van Klink and W. de Been (eds.), Facts and Norms in Law. Interdisciplinary Reflections on Legal Method, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2016, 265-286.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Introduction: The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research Part 1: Theoretical Discussions’, Erasmus Law Review, 8(2015)2, 39-42. doi: 10.5553/ELR.000050, with S. Taekema.
  • ‘The Incorporation Problem in Interdisciplinary Legal Research, Part 2: Case Studies’, Erasmus Law Review, 8(2015)3, 79-80. doi: 10.5553/ELR.000056, with S. Taekema.
  • ‘The Work of Lon Fuller: A Promising Direction for Jurisprudence in the 21st Century’, University of Toronto Law Journal, 64(2014), 736-752.
  • ‘What Is Neutrality?’, Ratio Juris 27(2014)4, 496-515, with R. Pierik.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Lon. L. Fuller’dan Yasa Koyuculara Dersler’ [‘Lon L. Fuller’s Lessons for Legislators’], Hukuk Kurami 1, S. 3, Mayis Haziran 2014, 58-64. (peer reviewed electronic journal).