6 3 / 2023 // LEOPOLDINA / NEWS
“... that , in all humility , we only understand a part of reality ”
Leopoldina Annual Assembly puts the spotlight on “ Law ( s )” from different perspectives
The Annual Assembly in Halle ( Saale )/ Germany was attended by Leopoldina Members , pupils and young scientists . Around 270 guests focused on the topic of “ Law ( s )” in lectures and discussions . Images : Anna Kolata and Markus Scholz | Leopoldina
The academic organisation of the Annual Assembly on 28 and 29 September was in the hands of three Leopoldina Members : the Romanist Andreas Kablitz , Director of the Petrarca Institute at the University of Cologne / Germany , the lawyer Andreas Voßkuhle , Director of the Institute of Political Science and the Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg / Germany , and the physicist Konrad Samwer from the University of Göttingen / Germany . They discuss the topic “ Law ( s ): Rules of Reality – Rules for Reality ”.
How did you come up with this topic ? Andreas Kablitz : The idea was to find a topic that would be of interest to those from every field represented by Leopoldina , which would bring different scientific cultures together under one umbrella and at the same time highlight different cultures and perspectives . The concept of law , encompassing the laws of nature and the laws of the legal system , seemed a suitable subject .
In common parlance laws are “ set ” legally by humans . How does the term fit with the “ discovered ” pre-existing laws of nature ? Konrad Samwer : First of all , it needs to be said that the “ laws ” of nature do not actually exist in the classic sense . Nature itself has no laws , we describe our observations as humans and formulate them mathematically .
Konrad Samwer . Image : private Thus , they are human-made , mostly mathematical formulations of re- gularities that we observe in nature . An example : The famous Kepler ’ s laws describe the Earth ’ s orbit around the sun . Strictly speaking , however , there is an interaction between all the planets and the sun and even the moon affects the orbit . The art of physics is to look for approximations and to name them mathematically , without getting it wrong , but at the same time also without making it too complicated . The laws that we have developed can then often be used to make predictions which can be tested . The predictions that Carl Gauß made about the return of the asteroid Ceres , for example , were correct to the day . However , we are also happy to refute or add to laws once they have been formulated . Andreas Voßkuhle : This all shows that there is a common feature between legal laws and the laws of nature , in that they can be changed but for a time they pro-