Legal evolution and the redemption of international law

Casper Sylvest

in British Liberal Internationalism, 1880-1930

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079092
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703151 | DOI:
Legal evolution and the redemption of international law

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This chapter investigates the character and intellectual infrastructure of the emerging discipline of international law, and covers the history of British international legal thought prior to 1870. Victorian society and politics were always saturated in religious language and images. John Stuart Mill exemplifies how ‘civilisation’ could supply a teleology. Henry Sumner Maine's contribution to international law has generally been neglected or overshadowed by his other writings. Many different legal scholars later adapted and adopted his ideas. William Edward Hall, Thomas Joseph Lawrence and John Westlake provide insights into the mainstream of international legal reasoning. The chapter shows how evolutionary ideas were closely bound up with the concept of civilisation. The idea of evolution supplied international law with a historical framework that explained the current problems of the subject and its future redemption. Compared with Westlake, Lawrence was more anxious to fulfil the prophecy of a gradually emerging peace.

Keywords: international law; John Stuart Mill; Henry Sumner Maine; civilisation; William Edward Hall; Thomas Joseph Lawrence; John Westlake; international legal reasoning

Chapter.  19343 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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