Metaphors of International Law
International Law’s Invisible Frames – Social Cognition and Knowledge Production in International Legal Processes (Andrea Bianchi & Moshe Hirsch eds., Oxford U. Press, 2021 Forthcoming)
17 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 24, 2020
This chapter explores international law in search of its hidden and not-so-hidden metaphors. In so doing, it discovers a world inhabited by states, where rules are mined or picked when ripe, where trade keeps boats forever afloat on rising tides. But is also unveils a world in which voices are silenced, inequality is ignored, and hands are washed of responsibility.
International law is built on metaphors. Metaphors provide a language to describe and convey the law’s operation, help international lawyers identify legal subjects and categorize situations in doctrinal categories, and provide normative justifications for the law. Exploring their operation at each of these levels, this chapter describes the ways metaphors allow international lawyers to build a shared, tangible universe of legal meaning. But it also reveals how metaphors simultaneously help hide international law’s dark side, blind international lawyers to alternative ways of organizing the world, and prejudge legal outcomes. Metaphors, a key building block of the international law we know, become key also to its demolition, restoration, or remodeling.
Keywords: international law, language, natural law, international relations, internet, cyberspace, trade
JEL Classification: K19, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation