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Fin de NAIL: New Approaches to International Law and its Impact on Contemporary International Legal Scholarship

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 October 2004

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Intellectual clashes over the nature of international law have been raging throughout the traceable history of the discipline. Naturalists, positivists, idealists, pragmatists, formalists, realists, and so forth, have striven to put forward and defend credible paradigms of international legal order. The common characteristic of each new wave of criticism has been its unsettling disposition. It arrived stridently with questions and doubts, often seeking reform and often reconceptualization and transcendence. A second common characteristic, notably in the post-enlightenment period, has been the marginalized position of the debate on the merit of each new wave, within and outside legal academia. Indeed, debate over unsettling questions seems to have been exempted from the habitual professional responsibilities of the overwhelming majority of international lawyers. Existential anxieties of this sort have been relinquished to that class of academics usually referred to as jurisprudes or legal theorists. ‘Practicing’ international lawyers, so it is often argued, need not concern themselves with ‘theory’. Their mission is to provide tangible answers to practical problems and, for this task, ‘theoretical’ debate is irrelevant: its outcome is indeterminate, abstract, and, thus, of limited usability. In some cases ‘theoretical’ even becomes a pejorative term, synonymous with counter productive or parasitic.

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EDITORIAL
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© 1997 Kluwer Law International
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