The first project section, which lays the theoretical basis for the others, is directed to clarifying the role ideals actually play in law, ethics and politics, both in theory and in practice. A preliminary question here is how ideals can best be conceptualized and what their epistemological and ontological status is.
The objective of this project section is twofold: firstly, the development of a coherent concept of ideals, which can be used to construct more ideal-focused theories and practices of law, ethics and politics. To this end, for the legal theory we take the lead from among others the views of Gustav Radbruch and Philip Selznick. For ethics, the inspiration is firstly the visions of moral language and knowledge of the later Wittgenstein and Kovesi, and on the other hand the models of reflective balance of Rawls.
Secondly, the aim is to answer the question of the degree to which, and the conditions under which, such theories or practices are adequate in the sense of yielding a more suitable description, or leading to higher quality and legitimacy. In what way exactly are ideals a factor in legal development, for example? What role do idealizations and 'ideal theory' play in political and moral debates? When are ideals common points of departure for achieving integration and harmony, and when are they responsible for worsening conflicts? These questions are investigated by looking at concrete examples. For example, can the development of moral thought and the law on privacy be understood as the crystallization of certain underlying ideals? What is the relationship between human rights and ideals, and are the dynamics of human rights protection to be seen partly as a continuing elaboration and implementation of underlying ideals? What are the underlying ideals in the development of fundamental rights in the context of a unifying Europe?