Dr. iur. Dr. phil. Philipp-Alexander Hirsch

Research Group Leader
Criminal Law
Independent Research Group Criminal Law Theory
+49 761 7081-272

Philipp-Alexander Hirsch is a legal scholar and philosopher. He has been Leader of an Independent Research Group on criminal-law theory at the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg since 2022, having studied and obtained doctorates in law and philosophy before taking up this role. He has studied at the University of Göttingen, the University of Vienna, and the University of Toronto. In addition, he is complet­ing his habilitation in criminal law at the University of Göttingen, where he is also a lecturer in the Department of Philos­o­phy. His research focuses on criminal law and criminal procedure, legal philosophy and legal theory, and the history and phi­los­o­phy of criminal law in the Age of Enlightenment.

Main Focus

In his research, Philipp-Alexander Hirsch is particularly interested in the foundations of crim­i­nal law. One focus is crim­i­nal-law theory, understood as an analysis of criminal law and its doctrine that centers on the underlying normative struc­tures and principles in order to assess their coherence, justifiability , and persuasiveness. In addition, his research is con­cerned with doctrinal and methodological questions as well as the intellectual history and philosophical aspects of criminal law. Current topics of his research are:

  • The status of the victim in substantive criminal law and criminal proceedings
  • Theory of rights
  • Questions of imputation
  • Theories of criminalization
  • Theories of punishment
  • Development of criminal law in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
  • Comparison of legal theories (especially between German and Anglo-American legal systems)

Curriculum Vitae

  • Since 2022: Leader of an Independent Research Group on criminal-law theory
    Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Freiburg i.Br.
  • 2018–2022: Research Associate and, subsequently, Assistant Professor (akademischer Rat)
    Institute of Criminal Law and Justice at the University of Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Uwe Murmann, Chair of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law)
  • 2017–2020: Doctor of Laws (Doktor der Rechte)
    University of Göttingen
    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Uwe Murmann
    Awarded the Appelhagen-Stifterpreis of the Faculty of Law of the University of Göttingen for the best dissertation of the year 2020
  • 2015–2018: Legal clerkship (Referendariat)
    Higher Regional Court of Braunschweig with internships at, inter alia, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the law firm Graf von Westphalen
  • 2011–2016: Doctorate in Philosophy
    University of Göttingen
    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bernd Ludwig and – during a research stay – Prof. Dr. Arthur Ripstein (University of Toronto )
    Funded by a doctoral scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation
  • 2006–2011: M.A., Philosophy
    University of Göttingen and University of Vienna
    Funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation
  • 2003–2010: Study of law (Studium der Rechtswissenschaften), First State Examination in Law
    University of Göttingen and University of Vienna
    Funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation
    Awarded second place among examinees in calendar year 2010 for performance on the First State Examination in Law of the state of Lower Saxony


Rights in Criminal Law

The aim of the project is to address the issue of rights in criminal law: Who holds and who should hold a right not to be wronged by others? And is it the violation of rights – rather than the causing of harm – that grounds a prima facie reason for criminalization? According to the standard view in criminal law, compliance with criminal-law du­ties… more

Ernst Ferdinand Klein. Philosopher, Criminal Law Scholar and Justice Reformer of the German Enlightenment

Ernst Ferdinand Klein is one of the most prominent figures of the late German Enlightenment. A philosopher, scholar of criminal law, and reformer of the judiciary, he not only played an influential role in shaping academic dis­course in these fields at the end of the 18th century. He also had a lasting impact on forming public opinion on the… more

Reasonable Punishment? The Presence of German Idealism in the Theory of Punishment

The aim of this interdisciplinary research project is to evaluate from today’s per­spective the dispute regarding whether punishment ought to be justified on retrib­u­tive or on preventive grounds – a dispute that has been on­go­ing in Ger­many since the end of the eighteenth century and whose most influential protagonists were Kant, Fichte, and… more

Relational Morality and the Criminal Law

The project will address the significance of second-personal/rela­tional concep­tions of moral­ity for criminal law and criminal proce­dure. Despite the vast im­portance that these concep­tions have gained in contemporary ethics in recent years, their possible implications for crim­i­nal law, especially in Germany, are still relatively unexplored… more

<em>Rücksichtslosigkeit</em>. Possibility, Potential, and Limits of a New Central Category between Intent and Negligence

In German criminal-law doctrine, deliberate high-risk behavior is strictly di­chot­o­mized as either intentional or neg­li­gent behavior. The border line runs between dolus eventualis (“conditional intent”) and bewusste Fahrlässigkeit (“conscious negligence”), although this is accompanied by problems with regard to proving intent in the trial and… more


Book (3)

Hirsch, P.-A. (2021). Das Verbrechen als Rechtsverletzung: subjektive Rechte im Strafrecht (Vol. Neue Folge, Band 299) Strafrechtliche Abhandlungen. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.
Hirsch, P.-A. (2017). Freiheit und Staatlichkeit bei Kant: die autonomietheoretische Begründung von Recht und Staat und das Widerstandsproblem (Vol. 194) Kant-Studien / Ergänzungshefte. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Hirsch, P.-A. (2012). Kants Einleitung in die Rechtslehre von 1784. Immanuel Kants Rechtsbegriff in den Vorlesungen „Moral-Mrongovius II“ und „Naturrecht-Feyerabend“ von 1784 und in der „Metaphysik der Sitten“ von 1797. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen. doi:10.17875/gup2012-459

Collected Edition (2)

Brecher, M., & Hirsch, P.-A. (Eds.). (in press). Law and Morality in Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fritsche, R., Gisbertz, P., Hirsch, P.-A., Bantlin, F., Cadore, R., Freudenberg, D., … Wallenfels , L. (Eds.). (2020). Unsicherheiten des Rechts: von den sicherheitspolitischen Herausforderungen für die freiheitliche Gesellschaft bis zu den Fehlern und Irrtümern in Recht und Rechtswissenschaft: Tagungen des Jungen Forums Rechtsphilosophie (JFR) in der Internationalen Vereinigung für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie (IVR) im April 2018 in Göttingen und im September 2018 in Freiburg (Vol. 162) Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.

Journal Article (14)

Hirsch, P.-A. (2023). Neu über Recht und Unrecht nachdenken: Nationalsozialistisches Strafrecht in der juristischen Ausbildung und die Novelle des § 5a DRiG. Nationalsozialistisches Strafrecht, 1–10.
Hirsch, P.-A., & Weigel, S. (2022). Fortgeschrittenenklausur: Geldabheben mit Hindernissen. Zeitschrift für das juristische Studium, 15(4), 587–597.
Hirsch, P.-A., & Dölling, M. (2022). Verbales Verwenden? Zur Auslegung der Drohungsalternative des § 250 Abs. 2 Nr. 1 StGB – Zugleich Besprechung von BGH, Beschl. v. 8.4.2020 – 3 StR 5/20. Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtswissenschaft, 17(1), 68–76.
Show more

Contribution to a Collected edition (10)

Hirsch, P.-A. (in press). Legal Coercion as a Moral Problem? Kant on the Enforcement of Rights and the Limits of Autonomy. In M. Brecher & P.-A. Hirsch (Eds.), Law and Morality in Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hirsch, P.-A. (2023). Künstliche Intelligenz, normative Ansprechbarkeit und die normentheoretische Beschreibung des Strafrechts. In M. Kuhli & F. Rostalski (Eds.), Normentheorie im digitalen Zeitalter (pp. 151–176) Schriften zu Recht und Ethik der digitalen Transformation. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. doi:10.5771/9783748937647-151
Hirsch, P.-A. (2022). Gerechte Strafe für gerechte Selbstjustiz: Strafgerechtigkeit und Rechtsgefühl in Kleists Michael Kohlhaas. In E. Achermann & G. Stiening (Eds.), Vom „Theater des Schreckens“ zum „peinlichen Rechte nach der Vernunft“ – Literatur und Strafrecht im 18. Jahrhundert (pp. 327–363). Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-64092-0_14
Show more

Issue (2)

Hirsch, P.-A. (Ed.). (2023). Nationalsozialistisches Strafrecht. Göttinger Rechtszeitschrift (Vol. 6).
Brecher, M., Hirsch, P.-A., & Klingner, S. (Eds.). (2020). Göttinger Naturrecht - 300 Jahre Gottfried Achenwall. Rechtsphilosophie (Vol. 6). doi:10.5771/2364-1355-2020-4

Book Review (2)

Hirsch, P.-A. (2020). Rezension zu: Luna Rösinger, Die Freiheit des Beschuldigten vom Zwang zur Selbstbelastung. Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik.
Show more
Go to Editor View