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2008

Democracy

Series

International Law

Faculty Working Papers

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Why Is International Law Binding?, Anthony D'Amato Jan 2008

Why Is International Law Binding?, Anthony D'Amato

Faculty Working Papers

Many writers believe that international law is precatory but not "binding" in the way domestic law is binding. Since international law derives from the practice of states, how is it that what states do becomes what they must do? How do we get bindingness or normativity out of empirical fact? We have to avoid the Humean fallacy of attempting to derive an ought from an is. Yet we can find in nature at least one norm that is compelling: the norm of survival. This norm is hardwired into our brains through evolution. It is also hardwired into the international legal …