This introductory chapter provides the background of the argument. It starts by describing the contemporary move away from the necessity to distinguish law from non-law and the growing tendency to construe international law as a continuum. It then briefly outlines the formal theory of ascertainment of international legal rules that is put forward in the book. It explains how the argument rests on a rejuvenated and modernized understanding of the source and social theses as they were elaborated in English analytical jurisprudence. The chapter ends with a number of caveats pertaining to the ambit and the limits of the argument. In particular, it explains how the theory of ascertainment provided by the book differentiates itself from current projects like global administrative law or the study on the international exercise of public authority. It also contends that formalism, while being a useful theory of ascertainment, certainly is insufficient to describe the whole phenomenon of law.
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