Legal positivism is generally recognized as the dominant school of thought in twentieth century international law. First developed by legal thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham, John Austin, Hans Kelsen and H.L.A Hart, positivism starts from the fundamental premise that legal norms derive their validity from legitimate sources of law and not from universal principles of morality, justice or religion. Less known is the fact that the specific form of twentieth-century positivism was deeply influenced by the nineteenth century’s awareness and admiration for empirical scientific methods and for the process of economic globalization. This awareness and admiration inspired legal thinkers to pursue a political project that re-built international law on an interest-based and capitalist foundation. This would lead to the creation of an international community that enabled the interaction between powerful private interests of the select few and commercially independent states. The search for objectivity within the new science of international law led to what is termed in the book under review ‘an empty normativity’ or a normativity devoid of justice or moral consideration, purely resting on the pursuit of private and public interests. This is the argument Monica García-Salmones Rovira develops in The project of positivism in international
The Legal History Review / Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis / Revue d'Histoire du Droit – Brill
Published: Dec 3, 2014
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