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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter claims that the idea of formalism exists in literary and artistic interpretation and designates an approach that takes the text as the exclusive object of interpretation. In legal theory, formalism similarly refers to taking the indications of existing law, whether written or unwritten, as presumptive or conclusive. This holds even against arguments from morality or policy that might produce a better outcome on a particular occasion. The same idea applies to legal sources, including the sources of international law. Thus, formalism about the sources of international law is an approach that takes the existing catalogue of acceptable sources, wherever that catalogue may come from, as presumptively or conclusively exclusive, despite the fact that adding to that list on some occasion might produce a morally or pragmatically superior outcome with respect to that particular controversy or application.

Keywords: Choice of law, General principles of international law, Sources of international law

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