Legal theory and international law
This chapter reviews the contribution of legal theory to an understanding of international law and its role in shaping international relations. It first considers some of the challenges facing such an enterprise. While the self-description of law as the application of relevant norms to a case is susceptible to traditional “jurisprudential” modes of reflection, the task of legal theory is wider as it brings into focus the background conditions that are not necessarily part of law but that are crucial for its acceptance and “legitimacy.” The theorist attempting to distinguish legal from non-legal norms needs to understand various extra-legal and historically contingent factors and the impact of the many wide-ranging socioeconomic processes encapsulated in the term “globalization.” The chapter then proceeds to examine the concept of law both in terms of social theory and in touching on some of the fundamental discussions within the discipline. The third section takes up the issue of the international “constitution” and the “fragmentation” of the international legal order. Lastly, the fourth section examines the issues of “style” and narratives of progress.