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The Role of Law in International PoliticsEssays in International Relations and International Law$
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Michael Byers

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244027

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199244027.001.0001

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How Do Norms Matter?

How Do Norms Matter?

(p.35) 3 How Do Norms Matter?
The Role of Law in International Politics

Friedrich V. Kratchowil

Oxford University Press

This chapter inquires into the possibilities of interdisciplinary research concerning the role of norms in social life in general, and in international politics in particular. It examines the defining moment of international relations analysis and assesses the repercussions that resulted from the emphasis on power as a defining criterion of a field study. It focuses on the problem of rule scepticism in general and to the notion that, even if international law could be shown to be ‘true’ law, it could not avoid the weakness of all laws, namely its aimless oscillation between ‘apology and utopia’. It examines the three dominant approaches, namely the rationalistic one, a more sociologically oriented one that partially coincides with constructivism, and the emerging ‘liberal’ theory of political action.

Keywords:   interdisciplinary research, social life, international politics, international relations, rule of scepticism, apology, utopia, constructivism

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