Rationalist and Behavioralist Approaches to International Law
Jeffrey L Dunoff and Mark A Pollack (eds), International Legal Theory: Foundations and Frontiers (Cambridge University Press, 2019, Forthcoming)
31 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 22, 2018
The rationalist approach to international law mostly stands on two pillars: the rational choice assumption and, following the traditional international law assumptions in the aftermath of the Westphalian peace, the nation-state has mostly been analyzed as a unitary actor. Rational choice analysis has been used to conceptualize or reframe international law generally, including its sources, or particular institutions. The rational choice paradigm as used in economics has been thoroughly challenged, however, since the 1970s by psychological and economic experimental research that has revolutionized huge parts of economics itself as well as the economic analysis of law. Experiments show systematic deviations from the rationalist assumptions.
This chapter analyzes the potential and the limits of the explanatory power of rationalist and behavioral approaches for international legal theory, in particular for the putative crisis in international law, in both variants – the unitary actor model as well as breaking up of the “black box” state.
Keywords: International Legal Theory, Behavioral Economics, Rational Choice Theory
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