Monday, June 4, 2012

d'Aspremont: Wording in International Law

Jean d'Aspremont (Univ. of Amsterdam - Law) has posted Wording in International Law (Leiden Journal of International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
Since the demise of philosophical foundationalism and that of the Aristotelian idea of an inner meaning of words, the scholarship about international law is no longer perceived as a mining activity geared towards the extraction of pre-existing meaning. Rather, international legal scholarship is in a state of fierce competition for persuasiveness and semantic authority. This does not elevate persuasiveness into the determinant of legality, nor does it lead to a total rejection of the internal point of view. The configuration of that competition for naming is informed by the current structure of (and the membership to) the interpretative community of international law. In this competition for naming, words constitute semantic weaponry. Mention is made here of uses of words in international law to create textual economy, generate semantic instability, rough out and hone scholarly ideas, enhance textual aesthetics, yield empiricism, create strawmen and preserve the argumentative character of scholarly idea, gratify oneself, boost fame and careers, and intimidate peers. It is also argued that there is nothing to rein in the use of such semantic tactics in the interpretative community of international law, for paradigmatic revolution is meant to be permanent. It is only if international legal scholars were to lose their social identity that the competition for naming and the interpretative community of international law would vanish altogether.