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Hegel's LawsThe Legitimacy of a Modern Legal Order$
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William E. Conklin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804750301

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804750301.001.0001

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Shapes of International Law

Shapes of International Law

(p.270) Chapter Ten Shapes of International Law
Hegel's Laws
Stanford University Press

This chapter identifies three shapes of international legal consciousness: international law as abstract right; international law as civil society; and an organic world history. It begins by privileging Kant's legal formalism and Hegel's critique of the formalism. In the first shape of international legal consciousness—international abstract right—the state is not aware of its separation from shared international norms. In the second shape—the international civil society—such a monadic state recognizes that it is dependent upon other states to fulfill its arbitrary will. The treaty, like a contract, fulfills the state's arbitrary will. But still further external obstacles constrain state action in international civil society. This takes us to the third shape of international legal consciousness—world history. Shared peremptory norms void state action, even when that action is institutionalized in a treaty. Such peremptory norms are identified. Hegel leaves us with the possibility that a state-centric international legal order may well dissolve, just as did the family, when the emergent peremptory universal norms displace international abstract right and civil society.

Keywords:   international legal consciousness, Hegel, international law, abstract right, civil society, world history, legal formalism, legal order

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