International Law and Political Philosophy: Uncovering New Linkages

Philosophy Compass, Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2018

See all articles by Steven Ratner

Steven Ratner

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: September 6, 2018


Despite a common agenda of normative analysis of the international order, philosophical work on international political morality and international law and legal scholarship have, until recently, worked at a distance from one another. The mutual suspicion can be traced to different aims and methodologies, including a divide between work on matters of deep structure, on the one hand, and practical institutional analysis and prescription, on the other. Yet international law is a key part of the normative practices of states, has a direct effect on state behavior, and, as a methodological matter, can contribute to good theorizing on matters of international ethics. Recently, philosophical work has demonstrated a greater engagement with the moral aspects of international law. One strand of scholarship has treated the rules of international law as a proper subject for philosophical inquiry. Another has used international legal rules to support moral arguments about aspects of the international order. Future dialogue and cooperation would benefit both fields, in particular on the challenges to global cooperation from nationalism and on strategies for allocating responsibilities among global actors for rectifying global harms.

Keywords: international law, political philosophy, global justice, ethics, international political morality, non-ideal theory, institutions

Suggested Citation

Ratner, Steven, International Law and Political Philosophy: Uncovering New Linkages (September 6, 2018). Philosophy Compass, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Steven Ratner (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
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