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International Law and International Relations: Introducing an Interdisciplinary Dialogue


Jeffrey L. Dunoff


Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Mark A. Pollack


Temple University - Department of Political Science; Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

June 4, 2012

Jeffrey L. Dunoff and Mark A. Pollack, eds., Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Law and International Relations: The State of the Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012 (Forthcoming))
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper Series 2012-18

Abstract:     
Despite common interests, the disciplines of international law and international relations were estranged during much of the 20th Century. However, the past two decades have witnessed a wealth of inter-disciplinary scholarship, in which legal scholars have drawn on international relations theories and on qualitative and quantitative methods from political science, and political scientists have attempted to understand the causes and consequences of the legalization of international relations. Yet the interdisciplinary nature of this scholarship, and its fragmentation by issue-areas such as trade, human rights, criminal and humanitarian law, have meant that few scholars have paused to take stock of what we have learned, aggregate empirical findings across disciplines and issue-areas, draw lessons, and chart an agenda for future research.

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Law and International Relations: The State of the Art seeks to fill this scholarly void. This paper serves as both a stand-alone account of the interdisciplinary dialogue in this area and as an introduction to the authors’ edited volume. The paper provides a brief overview of IL/IR’s emergence as an interdisciplinary field of study, and critically explores the “terms of trade” between the two disciplines found in seminal IL/IR scholarship. We argue that those terms have been largely unidirectional with political science/IR providing much of the theoretical content and (to a lesser extent) epistemological and methodological guidance of IL/IR scholarship, and with IL as a discipline contributing primarily a deep knowledge of legal doctrine, institutional design and processes, and dispute settlement mechanisms.

Like virtually all efforts to bridge distinct disciplinary traditions, IL/IR writings have sparked a sustained backlash, particularly among some international lawyers. We examine three sources of these disciplinary tensions: different substantive theories and ideas about the nature and role of theory, different epistemologies, and different conceptions of law associated with the two disciplines. Consideration of the issues that underlie disciplinary tensions sheds light on the promise and the limits of interdisciplinary work, and identifies key issues to be addressed in future research.

The final part of this introduction provides a brief overview of the volume’s organization and contents. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Law and International Relations: The State of the Art contains sections on: (i) theorizing international law; (ii) the making or designing of international law; (iii) interpretation and adjudication; and (iv) compliance and enforcement.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: international law, international relations, interdisciplinary, international legal theory, legalization, regime design, institutionalism, constructivism

JEL Classification: K33

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Date posted: June 4, 2012 ; Last revised: June 24, 2012

Suggested Citation

Dunoff, Jeffrey L. and Pollack, Mark A., International Law and International Relations: Introducing an Interdisciplinary Dialogue (June 4, 2012). Jeffrey L. Dunoff and Mark A. Pollack, eds., Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Law and International Relations: The State of the Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012 (Forthcoming)); Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper Series 2012-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2076574

Contact Information

Jeffrey L. Dunoff (Contact Author)
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-8233 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)
Mark A. Pollack
Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )
461 Gladfelter Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
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