Tilburg Law School

Tilburg Law School offers highly-ranked national and international education and research in law and public administration.

Research Legal Philosophy

Unification and Pluralisation in Transnational Legal Contexts

In the advent of globalisation, traditional State-centred paradigms of national and international law have lost much of their currency. The emergence of new forms of transnational law and regulation challenges the conceptual and normative pillars of the Westphalian order of States, including sovereignty, authority, territoriality, and the public/private divide.

Our research

Our research starts from the premise that the nature of these challenges should be cognised and assessed in terms of transnational processes of unification and pluralisation of law and politics.

Moreover, these processes are best understood in terms of the first-person plural perspective. Indeed, the unification and pluralisation of law and politics are closely linked to the emergence and contestation of a 'we' as a plural subject. Collective self-legislation thus becomes the focal point of contemporary debates about legal unity and political plurality; autonomy and heteronomy; and collective identity and

Our research critically rethinks and integrates key conceptual, normative and institutional issues called forth by transnational processes of unification and pluralisation in the relationship between law, politics, and society.


  • Is it possible to make sense of transnational law as a normative order without unity?
  • Or, can we uncouple legal authority from sovereignty in transnational contexts, while at the same time maintaining that law provides for the authoritative resolution of conflicts about the common good?
  • What novel understandings of publicness could emerge if transnational private regulatory regimes are conceived as forms of collective self-legislation?
  • Can we make sense of core values such as freedom, security, justice and human rights in transnational contexts without projecting collective self-legislation onto a global polity of some sort?
  • At the same time, how does the putative unity, authority and publicness of transnational law relate to irreducible political plurality?

Particular research topics

  • Transnational legal orders and their spatial boundaries
  • Transnational human rights jurisprudence
  • Transboundary legal scholarship
  • Economic globalisation and international human rights protection
  • Practical rationality beyond cosmopolitanism and communitarianism
  • Immigration and distributive justice
  • Democracy: a body politique without a body?
  • Constitutionalism and constituent power
  • The deferral of sovereignty
  • Tolerance, rights, and legal boundaries


The research group participates in the collaborative PhD program Globalisation and legal theory, which it runs together with the research groups of legal philosophy of the Universities of Antwerp and Glasgow.

More information

Please visit the program’s website