Chapter

The Practice of Interpretation: A Theoretical Perspective

Ingo Venzke

in How Interpretation Makes International Law

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199657674
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753114 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657674.003.0002
The Practice of Interpretation: A Theoretical Perspective

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This chapter develops theoretical perspectives on how the practice of interpretation makes international law. It first rejects orthodox legal positivism’s assumption that law can be found in the norm text and illustrates how semantic change challenges the normative construction according to which subjects can only be bound with their consent. Once they make a commitment, the content of such a commitment is no longer in their hands alone. The chapter identifies shortcomings of theoretical approaches that have shifted their attention towards lawmaking in communicative practices and connects to developments in linguistic theory as well as sociology to introduce a concept of practice that supersedes old divides. The chapter cuts to the core of semantic struggles in law by discussing the exercise of power and authority in legal interpretation and closes by introducing the main actors in international legal discourse.

Keywords: international lawmaking; sovereignty; sources doctrine; interpretation; indeterminacy; politics of international law; linguistics; international relations theory; pragmatism; actors

Chapter.  31713 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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