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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter finds that questioning the normativity of the sources of international law inevitably leads into the domain of legal philosophy. For showing that legal philosophy itself is a contested field of approaches, a hermeneutic perspective on the question of normativity is developed that stresses historical and contextual forms of understanding. Incidentally, Kelsen’s theory serves as a switchboard to relate a variety of historical debates to the contemporary discourse in the tradition of analytical jurisprudence. In practical terms, the relevance of this approach is discussed regarding three contested topics: the status of general principles, soft law, and practical reasoning. The historical and theoretical awareness thus achieved provides reasons to oppose contemporary attempts to moralize the legal point of view.

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

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