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Doctoral dissertation project of Bodo Bützler

Transnational Law and Collective Accountability (working title)

In an increasingly interconnected and global society, complex normative orders emerge which can no longer be translated back into the normative logic of nation states. This development becomes perhaps most evident when looking at the evolution of the internet. As much as the internet is a social, technical, even cultural phenomenon of global scale, it has always been a political and normative phenomenon, whose implications for the law remain yet to be more fully explored.

Physical access to the internet, for instance, is determined by internet service providers such as AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, and navigation within the internet via the domain name system is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN specifies in its own bylaws the mission of ensuring a secure and stable operation of the internet and requires domain name disputes to be resolved before arbitral courts. Meanwhile, the intermediation of information and communication is governed by giants such as Google and Facebook, who single-handedly transform local copyright and antitrust judicature by paradigmatically changing the way in which we interact with the world. None of these actors are public institutions or intergovernmental agencies. They are private corporations who primarily provide services to users, the result of which is a multilayered network of contracts between private actors; a network which can no longer be traced back into the endogenous sphere of any particular nation state or to international treaties between states. Rather, a truly trans-national normative order of the internet, a global lex informatica, emerges.

This seemingly autopoietic creation of law transcends any private-public divide and thereby questions traditional conceptions of legitimacy. Parliament is authorized to pass laws because it derives its legitimacy from an idealized representation of the will of the people. Idealized it is, but at least it is that. Where might transnational law derive its legitimacy from? Can contractual relationships between users and service providers be enough to constitute some form of primordial, unmediated input legitimacy? Absent any established frame of reference, what would be functionally applicable standards for assessing transnational legitimacy? Are we possibly even witnessing autonomous processes which gradually constitutionalize the lex informatica?


Short biography

Bodo Bützler, born 1990 in Bensberg, Germany, studied chemistry at the University of Cologne and piano at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln from 2003 to 2009. He graduated from Princeton University in 2013 with a B. A. in philosophy and then entered the a.r.t.e.s. Research Master programme at the University of Cologne, where he studied philosophy and law with a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. After receiving his M. A. in philosophy, he joined the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School at the University of Cologne in April 2017 with an a.r.t.e.s. doctoral scholarship. His doctoral thesis is supervised by Prof. Christine Chwaszcza and Prof. Dan Wielsch.



Press report

"Who Governs the Internet?" on academicstories.com (02/2018).



Together with Lisa Schöddert: "Constitutionalizing FIFA: Promises and Challenges", Tilburg Law Review 25(1) (2020), pp. 40-54, DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/tilr.192.

Together with Lisa Schöddert: “FIFA’s Eigen-constitutionalization and its limits”, VerfBlog, 2019/7/05, https://verfassungsblog.de/fifas-eigen-constitutionalization-and-its-limits/.

“Ich verlaß mich auf den Paragraphen einundfünfzig, Liebster.” Gewalt und Vorbehalt in Huillets & Straubs Böll-Verfilmung Nicht versöhnt oder Es hilft nur Gewalt, wo Gewalt herrscht, Wirkendes Wort 68 (2018), iss. 3, pp. 397–407.

Analyse des Urteils BGH v. 07.06.2016 – Az. KZR 6/15 – Pechstein/International Skating Union, Grundrechte im Privatrecht (research blog): http://www.rechtstheorie.uni-koeln.de/analyse-des-urteils-bgh-v-07-06-2016-az-kzr-615-pechsteininternational-skating-union/.

As third author together with Chen, Y.-W., Rada, P. V., Leibowitz, S. F. & Hoebel, B. G.: “Corticotropin-releasing factor in the nucleus accumbens shell induces swim depression, anxiety, and anhedonia along with changes in local dopamine/acetylcholine balance”, Neuroscience, vol. 206 (2012), pp. 155–166.



“Post-mortem Rights in the Digital Age”
together with Leonie da Col, November 8, 2019, Conference "Homo in articulo mortis", Institute of History, University of Warsaw.

“FIFA’s Eigen-Constitutionalization and Its Limits”
together with Lisa Schöddert, May 8, 2019, Conference “FIFA and Human Rights - Impacts, Policies, Responsibilities”, T.M.C. Asser Instituut, The Hague, The Netherlands.

“Lex Facebook: The Emergence of Transnational Legal Orders of the Internet”
September 17, 2018, Cambridge AHRC DTP Conference “Space and Surface”, University of Cambridge.

“The Legitimacy of Transnational Law and Collective Responsibility”
June 28, 2018, Fourth Max Planck Young Legal Scholars’ Forum, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany.


Teaching experience

Summer semester 2018
Teaching assistant for graduate seminar “Legal Philosophy”, Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne.

Summer semester 2017
Teaching assistant for graduate seminar “Politische Philosophie der Gegenwart”, Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne.

Winter semester 2016/2017
Teaching assistant for graduate seminar “Zeitgenössische Politische Philosophie”, Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne.


Cover photo: Eva Hesse (American, b. Germany, 1936–1970), Right After (1969), Fiberglass, approximately: 5 × 18 × 4 ft (152.39 × 548.61 × 121.91 cm), Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, M1970.27, © The Estate of Eva Hesse. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad