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The Status of Law in World Society
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Book description

Friedrich Kratochwil's book explores the role of law in the international arena and the key discourses surrounding it. It explains the increased importance of law for politics, from law-fare to the judicialization of politics, to human rights, and why traditional expectations of progress through law have led to disappointment. Providing an overview of the debates in legal theory, philosophy, international law and international organizations, Kratochwil reflects on the need to break down disciplinary boundaries and address important issues in both international relations and international law, including deformalization, fragmentation, the role of legal pluralism, the emergence of autonomous autopoietic systems and the appearance of non-territorial forms of empire. He argues that the pretensions of a positivist theory in social science and of positivism in law are inappropriate for understanding practical problems and formulates an approach for the analysis of praxis based on constructivism and pragmatism.


‘Kratochwil is one of the few contemporary academics straddling the line between international relations theory and international law. He is not just a political scientist, but a political thinker firmly based in classic as well as modern social philosophy. The meditations assembled in the present book bring out the best in Kratochwil's writing: they are enlightening, of course, but they are also a pleasure to read, acerbic, iconoclastic and challenging our established wisdom on many concepts we have taken for granted.'

Bruno Simma - University of Michigan and former judge, International Court of Justice

‘This masterful new book argues that a deep understanding of international law comes not from theory but reflection on how it is used and what it does. Eclectic, incisive and richly rewarding!'

Jutta Brunnée - University of Toronto

‘This book is an odyssey - not of a pre-programmed torpedo or a piece of driftwood but of a ship commanded by a relentlessly inquisitive, self-reflective and self-doubting captain committed to the perils of his journey more than the safety of ports. Unexpected intellectual discoveries occur along the way on innumerable beachheads of original thought offering compressed ruminations of a lifetime of learning. An exhilarating read.'

Peter J. Katzenstein - Cornell University

‘Kratochwil skillfully weaves sharp epistemological and methodological observations with insightful analyses of the limits of interdisciplinary work in international relations, the fragmentation of international law, and the politics of rights. By turns witty, provocative and profound, this book should be essential reading for all students and scholars of international relations and international law.'

Jeffrey L. Dunoff - Temple University

'Kratochwil has written the international law book of the year. There is much here to admire, there is much to take to heart and also (he will be delighted to see) some things to disagree with.'

Jan Klabbers Source: European Journal of International Law

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