Introduction: The Idea of a Moral Theory of International Law

Allen Buchanan

in Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780198295358
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600982 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Introduction: The Idea of a Moral Theory of International Law

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Explains why a moral theory of international law is needed, refutes several prominent views that purport to rule out the possibility of such a theory, sets out the criteria that the needed theory should satisfy, previews the main outlines of the theory developed in the remainder of the book, and explains and supports the thesis that institutional moral reasoning is needed to develop such a theory. There are nine sections: I. The Need for a Theory; II. Curious Neglect—the neglect of international relations in contemporary moral philosophy; III. Institutional Moral Reasoning; IV. The Realist Challenge; V. The Moral Minimalist Challenge; VI. Legal Nihilism; VII. The Moral Legitimacy of the State System; VIII. The Nature and Scope of a Moral Theory of International Law; and IX. An Overview of a Proto‐theory—a summary of the moral theory of international law presented in the book, pointing out its limitations and theoretical essentials.

Keywords: institutional moral reasoning; international law; international relations; Legitimacy; minimalism; moral philosophy; moral theory; Nihilism; realism

Chapter.  22243 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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