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3 - International Legal Positivism

from Part II - Traditional Approaches to International Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Jeffrey L. Dunoff
Affiliation:
Temple University, Philadelphia
Mark A. Pollack
Affiliation:
Temple University, Philadelphia
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Summary

This chapter aims at shedding light on the curious roles performed by the idea of international legal positivism in international legal thought. This chapter first elaborates on some of the common representations of international legal positivism that have allegedly led to its demise and motivated international lawyers to refrain from declaring any affinity with international legal positivism. This is the claim that international legal positivism is dead. In substantiating that claim, this section provides a sketch of five of the main features of international legal positivism as it is commonly understood in the literature (Section 3.2). This chapter then argues that most of the supposed features of international legal positivism are not specific to this supposed tradition of thought, or are simply imaginary. This is the claim that international legal positivism is empty (Section 3.3). In a third part, the chapter goes on to discuss the extent to which international legal positivism continues to be presented as a dominant approach despite few international lawyers declaring themselves positivists.

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International Legal Theory
Foundations and Frontiers
, pp. 63 - 81
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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