International Law and ‘The Natural’

‘The actual’ is often misrepresented in legal and economic reasoning as “natural, necessary, or just”. Some have explored how the actual is presented as necessary; others have explored how the actual is presented as just. Less often have scholars examined ‘the natural’, particularly in international law.

Kennedy explored how actual was presented as natural in economic thought; Funkenstein and Bourdieu observed the arbitrary assignment of ‘naturalness’ in the concept of reason. On their cue, this work examines two sets of assumptions, broadly categorizable as ‘states of nature’ and ‘forces of nature’. Classic ‘states of nature’ include Hobbes’ war of all against all, anthropocentrism, and Smith’s barter system; but there are more nuanced ‘states of nature’, such as concepts of ‘value’, Ricardian comparative advantage, or ‘dignity’. Classic ‘forces of nature’ include ‘supply and demand’, ‘development as progress’, ‘naturalness as inevitableness’, ‘natural’ sexuality, or ‘reason’.