Enchanted and Disenchanted International Law

Global Policy, December 2015

7 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2016

See all articles by Ian Hurd

Ian Hurd

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 15, 2015


Scholars and activists commonly see international law as occupying a privileged normative and political position in world politics, where international legal institutions are assumed to advance various important goals, including international stability, human justice, and even global order as a whole. I explore this attitude toward international law, which I call an ‘enchanted’ view, and contrast it to the ‘disenchanted’ alternative. Where the enchanted view presumes the normative valence and political wisdom of following international law, the disenchanted approach treats these as open questions for inquiry and discussion. The disenchanted approach is more empirically minded, and more politically open, than the enchanted, and leads to a distinct research program on legalization in international affairs — one that is attentive to the politics of law, the connections between law and power, the ambiguity that exists between legality and policy wisdom.

Keywords: international law, international politics, legalization, enchantment, disenchantment

Suggested Citation

Hurd, Ian, Enchanted and Disenchanted International Law (December 15, 2015). Global Policy, December 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2717793

Ian Hurd (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States

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