Why International Lawyers Measure Time with a Telescope: Grotian Moments & Richard Falk’s Histories of the Future

In: Grotiana
Edward Jones CorrederaMax Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany,

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This article contextualises the origins of the term Grotian Moment, coined and frequently redefined by Richard Falk. By generating a conceptual history of the idea and its uses, the article draws attention to the ways that Falk’s sustained interest in the question of temporality and the nature of change in international law can inform present legal debates. The recovery of Falk’s efforts to engage with critics, geopolitical changes, and new legal ideas by reinterpreting and reimagining the meaning of a Grotian Moment sheds light on its relationship to questions of free trade, Eurocentrism, and revolutions in international law. By considering the methodological parallels with the work of Reinhart Koselleck, this article emphasises the importance of both historiographical and historical debates for the study of change in legal history, the analysis of the global legacies of Hugo Grotius, and the generation of expectations of the future in international law.

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