Concepts for International Law
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Concepts for International Law

Contributions to Disciplinary Thought

Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh

Concepts shape how we understand and participate in international legal affairs. They are an important site for order, struggle and change. This comprehensive and authoritative volume introduces a large number of concepts that have shaped, at various points in history, international legal practice and thought; intimates at how the many projects of international law have grappled with, and influenced, the world through certain concepts; and introduces new concepts into the discipline.
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Chapter 48: Reason

Pierre Schlag


In contemporary legal thought, it is frequently claimed or simply presumed that reason rules or ought to rule. But if this view is to be more than a conceit, it would be necessary for legal thinkers to address the challenges that reason confronts when faced with a law whose authorities, aesthetics and self-idealization seem resistant to reason. That sort of encounter simply has not happened in any serious way. Based on a close reading of crucial passages in Ronald Dworkin’s Law’s Empire, this chapter shows how instead the ‘partisans of reason’ elide challenges to reason through a characteristic reductionism and purification of law. This rhetorical elision is ultimately a betrayal of reason itself. Predictably, it yields an enchantment of reason.

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