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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces a ‘meta-theory’ of international law. It employs the insights of Thomas Kuhn, who argued that once a paradigm has been accepted by a scientific community, most scientists accept it without much question. When the paradigm is overwhelmed, a ‘scientific revolution’—a new paradigm—emerges. The paradigm for the sources of international law is Article 38 of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Statute, which emerged during and after World War I when international lawyers, faced with the horrors of that awful conflict, lost faith in their old discipline, thereby initiating Kuhn’s scientific revolution. Nowadays, Article 38 remains an attractive paradigm: first because the ICJ and its Statute are almost universally accepted; secondly, because it is neatly formulated; thirdly, because the paradigm has been confirmed in case law and commentary; and fourthly, because it is widely taught.

Keywords: International Court of Justice (ICJ), Peace treaties, Choice of law, General principles of international law

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