A meta-theoretical approach to sources opens reflexive spaces, situates theories in time and space, and allows for a contextual interpretation of sources. In this paper, drawing on the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer and the writings of his most perceptive readers in international law, I develop a concept of reflexive situatedness prompting a constructive contextualization of sources and their interpreters in our ‘normative pluriverse’ (D’Aspremont). Following the traces of international law’s current ‘turn to interpretation’ and a reading of international law as a ‘hermeneutical enterprise’, my assessment of the limits and potentials of Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics prepares the ground for an analysis of the writings of international lawyers who have developed theories of international legal interpretation inspired by his work — and, in particular, for a closer look at the writings of Outi Korhonen, linking her concept of situationality to an emphasis on context(s) that engages with the rhetorical dimension of Gadamer’s work. Gadamer’s conversational hermeneutics opens new perspectives for a contextual theory and praxis of international legal interpretation that brings together various disciplinary perspectives and cultural experiences, and thereby allows for a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of sources and their interpreters within their respective interpretative communities.
08 March 2017
'Sources in the Meta-Theory of International Law: Hermeneutical Conversations' by Alexandra Kemmerer in Samantha Besson and Jean D’Aspremont (eds) The Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) comments