General Theory of International Law


This introductory volume to the series of American Classics in International Law is intended to present, put into context, and critically appraise specifically American general theories of and about international law. Those frameworks of ideas include the very concept of international law, its justification, the struggle between formalism and experience, various theories of legitimacy and fairness, the law’s effectiveness, empirical analysis, critiques from the margins and the center, and approaches to its improvement. Particular focus is on American Legal Realism, the New Haven School of Jurisprudence, International and Transnational Legal Process, liberal theories of international law, linkages to social sciences, including Law and Economics, Critical Legal Studies, LatCrit, TWAIL, and feminist approaches to the discipline.


EUR €319.00USD $367.00

Biographical Note

Siegfried Wiessner is a Professor of Law and the Founder and Director of St. Thomas University’s Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights in Miami, Florida. He earned his LL.M. degree at Yale and his Dr. iur. at Tübingen University. Professor Wiessner has served as Chair of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2008 to 2012, and has written extensively in the fields of jurisprudence, human rights, constitutional law, comparative law, arbitration law and space law, including a pioneering book on the transnationally common features of nationality and co-authorship of the casebook on International Law in Contemporary Perspective.

Table of contents

Introductory Essay, Siegfried Wiessner 1. The Task 2. Historical Context and Conditioning Factors 3. Traditional Theories about International Law – Natural Law and Legal Positivism 4. American Legal Realism 5. International Law as Naked Power 6. The New Haven School of Jurisprudence 7. International Legal Process and Transnational Legal Process 8. Liberal Theories of International Law 9. Human Rights and the Concept of Popular Sovereignty 10. Law & Economics, Public Choice and Game Theory 11. New Approaches to Empirical Scholarship in International Law 12. Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, and TWAIL 13. Critical Theories on Gender and Sexual Orientation 14. Summary and Conclusion I. American Legal Realism 1. Roscoe Pound, Philosophical Theory and International Law, 1 BIBLIOTHECA VISSERIANA DISSERTATIONUM IUS INTERNATIONALE ILLUSTRANTIUM 71-90 (1923) II. International Law as Naked Power 2. Hans J. Morgenthau, Positivism, Functionalism, and International Law, 34 AM. J. INT’L L. 260, 273-284 (1940) III. The New Haven School of Jurisprudence 3. Myres S. McDougal, Law and Power, 46 AM. J. INT’L L. 102-114 (1952) 4. W. MICHAEL REISMAN, THE QUEST FOR WORLD ORDER AND HUMAN DIGNITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: CONSTITUTIVE PROCESS AND INDIVIDUAL COMMITMENT , Collected Courses, The Hague Academy of International Law, Vol. 351 (2012) 101-164, 165-189 5. Siegfried Wiessner & Andrew R. Willard, Policy-Oriented Jurisprudence and Human Rights Abuses in Internal Conflict: Toward a World Public Order of Human Dignity, 93 AM. J. INT’L L. 316-334 (1999) IV. International and Transnational Legal Process 6. Harold Hongju Koh, Transnational Legal Process, 75 NEBRASKA L. REV. 181-207 (1996) V. Liberal Theories of International Law 7. LOUIS HENKIN, INTERNATIONAL LAW: POLITICS, VALUES AND FUNCTIONS, 1-8, 45-51, 97-108, 279-285, 295-296 (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1995) 8. John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 20 CRITICAL INQUIRY 36-68 (Autumn 1993) 9. THOMAS M. FRANCK, FAIRNESS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INSTITUTIONS 3-46 (1995) 10. Ronald Dworkin, A New Philosophy for International Law, 41 PHILOSOPHY & PUBLIC AFFAIRS 2-30 (2013) VI. Human Rights and the Concept of Popular Sovereignty 11. W. Michael Reisman, Sovereignty and Human Rights in Contemporary International Law, 84 AM. J. INT’L L. 866-876 (1990) VII. Law & Economics, Public Choice and Game Theory 12. Jack L. Goldsmith & Eric A. Posner, A Theory of Customary International Law, 66 U. CHI. L. REV. 1113, 1120-1151, 1170-1177 (1999) VIII. Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, and TWAIL 13. David Kennedy, A New Stream of International Law Scholarship, 7 WISC. INT’L L.J. 1, 28-49 (1988) 14. Makau Mutua, What Is TWAIL?, 94 AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW PROCEEDINGS 31-38 (2000) IX. Critical Theories on Gender and Sexual Orientation 15. CATHERINE A. MCKINNON, ARE WOMEN HUMAN? AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUES 41-63 (2006)


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