The International Legal Argument in Spinoza
In: System and Order in International Law, edited by Stefan Kadelbach, Thomas Kleinlein, David Roth-Isigkeit, OUP 2017, pp. 183‒198.
18 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017 Last revised: 12 Jan 2018
Date Written: February 14, 2017
In this paper, it is argued that Spinoza is far from being a ‘denier’ of international law. Instead, it is shown that Spinoza offers a nuanced argument for why states are compelled to cooperate with one another in the form of international law.
The argument is developed as follows: Part II outlines Spinoza’s realist starting point which can be called the ‘international state of nature’. Part III reconstructs – drawing on his ethical and ontological theory outlined in the Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (Ethics, E) and in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (Theological-Political Treatise, TTP) – Spinoza’s international legal argument, i.e. the conditions that must be fulfilled for international law to exist. Part IV condenses and generalizes Spinoza’s international legal argument in the form of three analytical concepts (normativity of international law, being a State sui iuris and the concept of international cooperation). Part V concludes by outlining Spinoza’s lasting contribution to the theory of international relations and law.
Keywords: International Legal Theory, International Law, Spinoza
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation