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THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY YEARBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE 2016$
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Giuliana Ziccardi Capaldo

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190848194

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190848194.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2020

International Legal Thought

International Legal Thought

Creation of a Tradition and the Potential of Disciplinary Self-Reflection

Chapter:
(p.811) International Legal Thought
Source:
THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY YEARBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE 2016
Author(s):

Thomas Kleinlein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190848194.003.0036

This contribution reflects on the role of tradition-building in international law, the implications of the recent ‘turn to history’ and the ‘presentisms’ discernible in the history of international legal thought. It first analyses how international legal thought created its own tradition in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These projects of establishing a tradition implied a considerable amount of what historians would reject as ‘presentism’. Remarkably, critical scholars of our day and age who unsettled celebratory histories of international law and unveiled ‘colonial origins’ of international law were also criticized for committing the ‘sin of anachronism’. This contribution therefore examines the basis of this critique and defends ‘presentism’ in international legal thought. However, the ‘paradox of instrumentalism’ remains: The ‘better’ historical analysis becomes, the more it loses its critical potential for current international law. At best, the turn to history activates a potential of disciplinary self-reflection.

Keywords:   Alberico Gentili, Baruch de Spinoza, Cambridge school, Christian Wolff, critical potential, Eurocentrism, Hugo Grotius, instrumentalism, international legal thought, tradition-building

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