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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Most of the legal theory of the last four centuries, in the Western world, has been state-centred. It has justified the existence of states, facilitated their expansion, conceptualized their sources and structures, sought to resolve their conflicts, and developed their law. The state has even been taken, in much of this writing, as the exclusive source of law. There are indications, however, that this theoretical preoccupation with state structures, state institutions, and state laws may now be in decline. This would be a significant development, a historical shift in emphasis in the conceptualization of Western law. It would not, however, mean the end of states or of state law, but rather their contextualization. States and state law would exist in a larger field of normativity. This would entail recognition of a wider range of sources of law and a wider range of relations between laws and between peoples. To attempt to understand these processes, and the extent of their progression, this article examines what we know, or think we know, of the relations between law and the state, before turning to current efforts to develop a transnational concept of law.

Keywords: legal theory, legal scholarship, Western law, state

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