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Cover International Law

3. A View of Delft: Some Thoughts About Thinking about International Law  

Iain Scobbie

This chapter first explains the concept of theory and what it does. It then illustrates the formative power of theory by contrasting two very different accounts of international law: the New Haven School, which was elaborated principally by Myres McDougal and Harold Lasswell in Yale Law School; and the pre-perestroika Soviet theory of international law propounded by GI Tunkin. The chapter argues that despite their differences, the New Haven and Soviet schools share a common approach: both are instrumental theories of law, aimed at guiding and informing practice. It also considers hegemonic theory, which views international law through the prism of a variant of United States constitutional theory that is rooted in a conservative, if not libertarian, democratic doctrine.