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Part II Approaches, Ch.14 Natural Law in International Legal Theory: Linear and Dialectical Presentations

Geoff Gordon

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 June 2024

Customary international law — General principles of international law — Relationship of international law & host state law — Sources of international law

This chapter presents an overview of three active periods of natural law scholarship bearing on international legal theory, via two stories that illustrate these to effect. The first story relates in brief the renewed attention to natural law doctrine as part of historiographical and epistemological inquiries in international law and legal theory. The second presents still another means of understanding natural law and its ongoing role in international law, namely as a dialectic by which new conceptions and vocabularies of political organization have arisen under varying historical circumstances. The chapter then traces the role of natural law doctrine as part of a linear consolidation of liberal hegemony internationally from the early modern period forward, and offers the dialectical presentation covering the same time frame. The chapter concludes by returning to how natural law continues to contribute both to the possibility of new normative programs internationally, as well as the hegemonic.

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