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


For a full CV, see website:

Professor Wibren van der Burg is visiting professor at QMUL since 2014. At Queen Mary, he teaches Jurisprudence A, and he will give presentations about the methodology of legal research.

He is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence at Erasmus University Rotterdam, a post he has held since August 2008. Prior to Rotterdam, he was Professor of Jurisprudence (‘Metajuridica’ or the interdisciplinary study of law) at Tilburg University, where he also directed the NWO-‘PIONIER’ research programme ‘The Importance of Ideals in Law, Morality, and Politics’. From 1986 until 1994, he 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. A special focus in his research is on how law and politics should deal with the dynamics of cultural and religious pluralism. A second focus is on the methods of legal research. His most recent book is ‘The Dynamics of Law and Morality: A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism’ (Ashgate 2014), which, building on the work of Lon Fuller and Philip Selznick, discusses, inter alia, the concept of global legal pluralism.

Postgraduate Teaching

  • QLLM112 Jurisprudence A


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 two 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. He recently published a book with the title 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

This is currently his primary focus. 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. See the two special issues of the Erasmus Law Review co-edited with Sanne Taekema (2015, 2 and 3). A second central question is how to justify evaluative judgments and normative recommendations for law reform in legal research.
Some other themes of his research are:

  • Democracy, the rule of law and (cultural and religious) diversity
  • Ideals in law, morality and politics
  • State neutrality.

Works in progress

  • The Merits of Law. Towards a Framework for Evaluative Judgments and Normative Recommendations in Legal Research
  • From ethical analysis to legal reform: Methodological reflections on translation and incorporation
  • Explaining pervasive pluralism: Essentially contested concepts
  • Global Legal Pluralism and Interactionism

For conference papers, see here.

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).


  • W. van der Burg (2016), ‘Law as a Second-Order Essentially Contested Concept’, Jurisprudence 2016 (DOI: 10.1080/20403313.2016.1189156), forthcoming
  • W. van der Burg (2014), The Dynamics of Law and Morality. A Pluralist Account of Legal Interactionism, Farnham: Ashgate (pb: Routledge 2016)
  • R. Pierik and W. van der Burg (2014), ‘What Is Neutrality?’, Ratio Juris 27 (2014)4, 496-515
  • W. van der Burg (2009), ‘Essentially Ambiguous Concepts and the Fuller-Hart-Dworkin Debate’, Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, 95 (2009) 3, 305-326
  • W. van der Burg and S. Taekema (eds.) (2004), The Importance of Ideals: Debating Their Relevance in Law, Morality, and Politics, Bruxelles, etc.: Peter Lang 2004
  • W. van der Burg (2003), ‘Dynamic Ethics’, Journal of Value Inquiry 37 (2003), 12-34
  • W. van der Burg (2001), ‘The Expressive and the Communicative Functions of Law’, Law and Philosophy, 20(2001)1, 31-59
  • W. van der Burg and T. van Willigenburg (eds.) (1998), Reflective Equilibrium. Essays in Honour of Robert Heeger, Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers
  • W. van der Burg (1997), ‘Bioethics and Law: A Developmental Perspective’, Bioethics 11(1997)2, 91-114. (reprinted in M. Freeman (ed.), Ethics and Medical Decision-Making, Aldershot etc.: Dartmouth/Ashgate 2001, 45-68.)
  • W. van der Burg (1991), ‘The Slippery Slope Argument’, Ethics 102(1991), 42-65. (reprinted with three replies in The Journal of Clinical Ethics, 3(1992)4, 256-268.); (reprinted in abbreviated version in: E.-H.W. Kluge (ed.), Readings in Biomedical Ethics. A Canadian focus, Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice Hall Allyn and Bacon Ontario, 383-400.)