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Part IV Debates, Ch.45 The Idea of Progress

Thomas Skouteris

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

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

This chapter discusses the entwinement of the idea of progress with the theory of international law. Because of the topic’s extensive scope, the chapter limits itself to two arguments. The first is that the impact of the idea of progress in international law should be measured not only against the traction of paradigmatic progress narratives; but also against the pervasiveness of humdrum, prosaic varieties of progress talk. The second point of this chapter is that any kind of progress talk, from the uppercase to the lowercase and back, is theoretical ‘all the way down’. The idea of progress does not merely describe reality ‘an sich’ but imposes a frame over it. Move the frame, and the image becomes muddled. One’s progress is another’s regression, stagnation, or mere directional movement.

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