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The Idea of International Human Rights Law$
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Steven Wheatley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198749844.001.0001

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Complexity as a Methodology in International Law

Complexity as a Methodology in International Law

Chapter:
(p.37) 2 Complexity as a Methodology in International Law
Source:
The Idea of International Human Rights Law
Author(s):

Steven Wheatley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198749844.003.0003

Chapter 2 explains how we can use complexity theory to make sense of the international law system. Drawing on the insights of our colleagues in the natural sciences, it shows how we can conceptualize international law as the emergent property of the actions and interactions of states, evolving as states respond to unexpected changes in the behaviours of other states or occurrences in the outside world. The work takes the key insights from complexity—self-organization, emergence and downward causation, problem-solving, synchronic evolution, bifurcations, path dependence, events, and attractors—and shows how these can be applied to international law.

Keywords:   systems theory, autopoiesis, complexity theory, self-organization, emergence, downward causation, path dependence, events, attractors

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