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6 Shaping of the Modern World (1492-1645)

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Chapter Summary

World discovery in the 16th and early 17th centuries had both positive and negative effects on the development of international law. It opened the eyes of idealists to the true scope of universalism, and to the magnitude of the task of bringing all cultures and civilizations together within a single framework of laws. The seeds of "world empire" were sown, and also the seeds of tragic conflicts that would complicate and prolong the best efforts to establish an international legal community. Religious discord erupted continuously, spewing streams of animosity among the major religions and opening up fractures within Christian and Islamic communities. The new ethic of secular humanism now offered a glimpse into a future world of public morality based on rule of law rather than scripture. The growing acceptance of a system of sovereign states introduced the prospect that state autonomy would become the dominant value in international relations.

Keywords:international law; international legal community; modern world; rule of law; secular humanism; sovereign states; state autonomy; universalism



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