Journal Article

‘The Divided West’: International Lawyers in Europe and America

Guglielmo Verdirame

in European Journal of International Law

Published on behalf of The EJIL

Volume 18, issue 3, pages 553-580
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0938-5428
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1464-3596 | DOI:
‘The Divided West’: International Lawyers in Europe and America

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It is well known that significant differences exist in international law scholarship between the United States and Europe. Even when they share a positive outlook on the role and future of international law – as Philippe Sands and Anne-Marie Slaughter do – the intellectual approach and analytical style of European and American international lawyers often vary considerably. A complex and fascinating intellectual history lies behind these differences. Its main chapters are the emergence on the two sides of the Atlantic of different assumptions about sovereignty in the modern world; the role of science in legal argument and the relationship between the actual and the normative, areas of thought shaped in the United States by the philosophy of pragmatism which had a marginal influence in Europe; and the deep-seated rule-scepticism that defines much American thinking about the law but is not for the most part a feature of the European approach to the law in general and to international law in particular. Subject to the necessary cautions and disclaimers which must accompany any reflection on general trends in two large and heterogeneous intellectual communities, this analysis seeks to draw attention to these trends as illustrated in the recent work of Sands and Slaughter.

Journal Article.  15167 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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