Agora 8: International Law and Political Science: The Need to Learn From Each Other

Political science has rediscovered international law – either through the constructivist turn in international relations thought, rational choice modeling, or more recently through the attempt to develop data-driven empirical inquiries into the ways in which international law ‘works’ in shaping state and non-state behaviour. The result has been a scholarly agenda preoccupied with understanding whether international law rules ‘matter’, whether and why states comply, and how various kinds of legalization of political decisions impact upon those decisions. These studies, both in the methodologies and in their outcome, raise important questions about how we think about the impact of law on international politics, what qualifies as an impact, and whether we can use this knowledge to better design international legal regimes and institutions. It also challenges some important self-understandings of international lawyers as to the significance and relevance of norms and their interpretation.
This agora will bring together political scientists and lawyers to consider both how this discipline understands international law, and how legal science might shape the methods of political science.


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