International Law and the Rage Against Scienticism

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In international legal thought and practice, anything that is related to the real or is grounded in the real is given discursive primacy. This discursive primacy is the manifestation of a common scientistic hierarchy of discourses inherited from Modernity that accords primacy to discourses about the real and grounded in the real. Anne Orford’s International Law and the Politics of History can be read as yet another expression of discontent with such primacy of the real and its scientistic methods. With an emphasis on international lawyers’ engagements with history, Orford specifically takes issue with the use of contextualist and empirical methods in the study of the history of international law. And, yet, as is argued in this review essay, scienticism leaves no way out for those seeking to contest it: Orford’s charge against contextualism and empiricism itself needs to be contextualized and empirically supported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679–694
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2022


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