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From utopia to apologia: international normativity in the long nineteenth century

Schütze, Robert (2019) From utopia to apologia: international normativity in the long nineteenth century. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Having lost the theological certainties of the past, all modern scholars of international law battle to establish normative foundations for the new “law of nations”. What is the relationship between “natural law” and the “positive” international law? By the eighteenth century, the quantity of positive international law and its legal quality had become a major philosophical problem. For if positive international law existed, what was its relation to natural law and what was the “reason” behind its (presumed) status as “law”? How could international norms be “laws” if there was no “government” above the States? These questions continued, during the eighteenth century, to be generally answered in favour of natural law; while the relationship between “natural law” and the “law of nations” remained open. But ever since the French and the Kantian revolution, “rationalistic” natural law conceptions were increasingly challenged. What did step into their place to justify the binding nature of international norms during the nineteenth century? The thesis traces the various theoretical and practical responses to this question. It argues that the nineteenth century develops its own conception of “natural law”. This however is a natural law that is neither universal nor rationalist but is instead “national” and “historicist”. The nineteenth century should therefore not be characterised as a “positivist” century in which international norms lacked a metaphysical normativity. While an “apologetic” turn towards state sovereignty ultimately takes place by the end of that century, it is only after the First World War that a new “positivistic” era of international law triumphs. In order to demonstrate this, the thesis explores the German and British philosophical and jurisprudential discourses in the long nineteenth century (1789-1914); and it thereby hopes to challenge a number of conventional views in the academic literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Robert Schütze
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Flikschuh, Katrin

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