Send Back the Lifeboats: Confronting the Project of Saving International Law

108 American Journal of International Law 680 (2014)

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2015-15

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2015-07

17 Pages Posted: 9 May 2015

See all articles by Jean d'Aspremont

Jean d'Aspremont

Sciences Po Law School; University of Manchester - School of Law

Date Written: May 7, 2015

Abstract

This piece critically evaluates the inclination of international lawyers to feel that international law needs to be saved. In doing so, it provides some observations on the self-destructive processes of international law. This piece constitutes a response to an article entitled “Groundwork for International Law” in which Anthony D’Amato offers a comprehensive account of how international law is formed and structured. Parts I and II sketch the various facets and implications of D’Amato’s self-preserving international law as well as highlight its originality in Anglo-American scholarship. In part III, this response proposes a more nuanced understanding of how international law “preserves” itself. Part IV makes the argument that if some self-preserving aspects exist, they are the product of the collective attitudes of the professional groups organized around international law but are not intrinsic to international law itself. Because I posit that we cannot possibly have any meta-standpoint to (in)validate and rank conceptions of international law, I conclude in part V with some critical reflections on what D’Amato’s conception means for those twenty-first-century international lawyers who feel that international law needs to be saved.

Keywords: International Law, International Legal Theory, System Theory, Anthropomorphism, Autopoiesis, Legitimacy, Empiricism, New Haven, Kelsen, Community of practice, epistemic community

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

d'Aspremont, Jean, Send Back the Lifeboats: Confronting the Project of Saving International Law (May 7, 2015). 108 American Journal of International Law 680 (2014), Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2015-15, Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2015-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2603669

Jean D'Aspremont (Contact Author)

Sciences Po Law School ( email )

13 rue de l'université
Paris, 75007
France

HOME PAGE: http://www.sciencespo.fr/ecole-de-droit/en/profile/daspremont-jean

University of Manchester - School of Law ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL, M139PL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/Jean.daspremont/

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