Sociological Objectivism: Still Relevant?
forthcoming in R Deplano, N Tsagourias (eds), Research Methods in International Law: A Handbook, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020
23 Pages Posted:
Date Written: June 30, 2020
The sociological objectivism school of thought situates itself within legal positivism but squarely rejects the key principles and assumptions of the voluntarist conceptualization of international law. Sociological objectivism denies state sovereignty and considers law as stemming, not from sovereign will, but from social necessity. For objectivists, positive law cannot produce normative effects unless it is aligned with an ideal, namely objective law. This raises questions regarding the interrelationship between objective law and natural law. Although the reality of contemporary international law disproves the extreme and ‘full-bodied’ version of sociological objectivism, certain precepts of this theory remain fairly germane. The chapter situates sociological objectivism within the broader design of legal positivism, discusses the key tenets of objectivism and explores how, outside of a ‘philosophy’ of international law, this theory can be translated into (a set of) method(s).
Keywords: Sociological objectivism, legal positivism, voluntarism, social necessity, social solidarity, ‘role splitting’, Georges Scelle
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