Completing an Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle: Cornelis Van Vollenhoven and the Study of International Law
Tilburg University - Department of Public Law, Jurisprudence & Legal History; Tilburg Law School
October 28, 2009
Tilburg University Legal Studies Working Paper No. 016/2009
Tilburg University Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Legal History No. 09-01
This paper examines the views of the Dutch lawyer and philologist Cornelis van Vollenhoven (1874-1933) on how to study law and international law in particular. Van Vollenhoven assessed that international law was in a state of uncertainty and inchoateness which it was the lawyer’s obligation to transcend. Since most textbooks, with or without good reason, fail to mention him, Van Vollenhoven is one of those striking personalities one is likely to have heard about as an international legal historian but who remains nothing but a casual acquaintance nonetheless. This paper primarily sets out to elaborate on Van Vollenhoven’s ontological and epistemological views on international law thus shedding light on some aspects of his thought and writings that have not received the attention they deserve yet. Van Vollenhoven was both involved in scholarly work on international law and left behind various publications on legal methodology. The scholar willing to dig into his collected writings comes across a rather eclectic and hence probably unique though not highly original approach to the study of law. His endauvour to classify jurisprudence among the exact sciences combined with some of his political positions on international order and the law of the Dutch East Indies resulted in an empiricist, evolutionist, and institutionalist perspective according to which a scientific approach to international law boils down to the combination of three methods: a systematic, a historical, and a comparative one. This paper aims at providing a sketch of that approach.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: international law, legal history, legal methodology, Vollenhovenworking papers series
Date posted: October 29, 2009
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