The Dictionary of Moral and Political Philosophy, supported by the Nova Institute of Philosophy (Ifilnova) of the Nova University of Lisbon, was born in 2001 as the result of a project funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (POCTI / FIL / 39453/2001). The intention of its original editors and principal investigators, António Marques and Diogo Pires Aurélio, consisted in the construction of an explanatory list of the fundamental concepts of ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of law, counting on the contribution of some of the most specialized researchers of these areas in the Portuguese language. The scientific emphasis would focus on the transversality of each concept addressed to the various areas of practical philosophy, starting from a methodological perspective that embraces the need to explore various normative dimensions of the same concept. Each entry would then include a historical view of the main theories developed, as well as a presentation and discussion of contemporary perspectives, thus offering the reader both the historical genesis of the problem and the most relevant areas of debate. Once the list was completed, the online dissemination of the entries would be published in book format.

As years passed and the number of entries increased, the editors soon realized that it would be impossible to reach closure since each problem requires a new entry, which in turn presents another problem requiring a new entry, and so on. What began as an online provisional dissemination of a future book became, more appropriately, a periodical publication continuously in progress.

The organization of the entries reflects this historical context. A set of entries made in the period between 2002 and 2012 constitutes the first series. The reemergence of the project gave rise to a series of new entries starting in 2017, which constitute the 2nd series, coordinated by Andre Santos Campos and António Marques. In light of its purpose of serving the public interest, new entries are under construction and will be added continuously.