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Jurisprudential Polyphony: The Three Variations on the Positivist Theme in the 19th Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter goes behind the state-positivist synthesis to explore three underlying variations (empirical, common-will, voluntarist) of the positivist theme. In the first section, the common ground is set out, as the core belief of the positive philosophy itself: the discarding of natural law as a source of the law of nations. The second section briefly delineates each of the three versions of positivism. In the third section, there is a necessarily brief look at some of the ways in which the synthesis of the three occurred. This idea of international law as the coordination of individual, independent wills can be seen clearly in action in the voluntarist position on treaty obligations, where there is a particularly instructive contrast to the common-will variant. The empirical variant of positivism survives, then, not in its pristine form, but heavily encumbered by the various contributions of its two sister schools of thought.

Keywords: common-will variant; empirical variant; independent wills; international law; positivist theme; voluntarist position



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