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International law, philosophy of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-T070-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2006
Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

Article Summary

The philosophy of international law has a long history, reaching back on some accounts beyond the Medieval period to late Hellenistic philosophy. In the twentieth century work in this field was limited, at least among analytic philosophers. From the late 1970s onward, a rich literature developed on global justice, human rights, just war theory, and other key issues of direct relevance to the philosophy of international law, but for the most part it did not directly engage international law or international legal institutions. Quite recently, interest in the philosophy of international law has re-awakened.

The questions the philosophy of international law tries to answer may be divided into two categories: international jurisprudence and the morality of international law. The first includes: (a) is what we call international law really law and if so what makes a norm an international law (as distinct from, say, a political or social norm) and (b) how do we know whether a norm is an international law? International jurisprudence explores fundamental conceptual and epistemic questions about international law, typically with an eye toward determining how and to what extent international law differs from domestic (national) law. The second category encompasses the reasoned moral evaluation of existing international law and legal institutions and principled proposals for reforming them.

Citing this article:
Buchanan, Allen. International law, philosophy of, 2006, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-T070-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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