Ethos, Ethics and Morality in International Relations
MAX PLANCK ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW, R. Wolfrum, ed., Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
13 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2009 Last revised: 10 Mar 2011
Date Written: 2009
This contribution focuses on the role of morality in international legal discourse. International lawyers endorse distinct methods and embrace particular concerns. Their arguments are oftentimes closely intertwined with the analysis and assessment of the practical consequences of the actual use of political leverage that builds on moral convictions or appeal. We distinguish three broad approaches: 1) Skepticism - morality is disguise and domination. 2) Foundation - universal morality provides the foundation of international law. 3) Process - law and morality stand in a constitutive relationship - morality is viewed as a possibility. The contribution argues that diverging conceptions, approaches and methods respond to distinct sensibilities and priorities of concerns that arise from diverging views on the existence and accessibility of a morality as well as on the reality of international law. Under the surface of distinct theoretical approaches to morality and international law loom diverging political judgments of the status quo of the current international legal order, of its history, its achievements and of its future.
Keywords: International Law, International Relations, Ethics, Morality
JEL Classification: K10, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation