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

See all articles by Anne van Aaken

Anne van Aaken

University of Hamburg, Law School; Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Date Written: August 22, 2018

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

van Aaken, Anne, Rationalist and Behavioralist Approaches to International Law (August 22, 2018). Jeffrey L Dunoff and Mark A Pollack (eds), International Legal Theory: Foundations and Frontiers (Cambridge University Press, 2019, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3237033

Anne Van Aaken (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg, Law School ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

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