Dr Tomasz Widłak
University of Gdańsk
Abstract: During his academic career Ronald Dworkin did not show much interest in the fundamental philosophical questions on international legal issues. This had changed towards the end of his life when he wrote an article titled „A New Philosophy for International Law” published posthumously. The aim of this article is to summarise the key arguments of Dworkin’s approach, address some of its critics as well as to suggest the possibility of further development of this discussion in the context of current global constitutionalism. In the first part, three thesis of Dworkin’s approach are reconstructed. The first one claims that international law requires interpretative understanding which should be grounded in the political morality of the international community. The second thesis can be formulated as follows: the legitimacy of political power at the national and international levels is uniform. The third thesis demands the implementation of the principle of salience in international law as the basic structural principle. After discussing critically Dworkin’s theory, in second part the article proposes a constitutional interpretation of the new philosophy for international law. Two conditions of global constitutionalism have to be satisfied by the theory in order to consider it as a constitutionalist approach. The first condition is the primacy of individual rights and second is the primacy of constitutional norms within the system. The conclusion is that the conditions are satisfied for Dworkin’s new philosophy of international law and his principle of salience is in fact a deeply constitutional arrangement based on moral justification. Dworkin’s proposal constitutes only a rough sketch, however there is a potential for developments. Lawyers and philosophers have at least an intellectual responsibility for building new viable theoretical models for international law.
Keywords: Ronald Dworkin, international law, international society, principle of salience, global constitutionalism, constitutionalization of international law, international legal theory, global law
Published: Number 1(12)/2016, p. 64-77.
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