Grotius, Dio Chrysostom and the ‘Invention’ of Customary ius gentium

in Grotiana
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This article tackles the issue of whether and how Hugo Grotius conceives of custom as a formal source of the law of nations. The main claim of it is that not only custom plays a fundamental role in Grotius’s thought, but that his reflections mark a fundamental turning point for the history of customary international law. A crucial role in this process of re-conceptualization is played by Grotius’s reading of Dio Chrysostom, whose oration On custom provides him with an integrated account of custom as a ‘normative practice’ based on rhetorical judgment (as opposed to the Scholastic interpretation of custom as reiteration of voluntary acts). Consequently, I argue that Dio Chrysostom’s text helps Grotius to transpose the question of the normative legitimacy of custom from a moral to an interpretative level. To conclude, I will show that Grotius adopts two different rhetorical strategies to prove the existence of customary norms of ius gentium.

Grotius, Dio Chrysostom and the ‘Invention’ of Customary ius gentium

in Grotiana

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