"Economics and International Law: Closer Alignment through Greater Analytical Diversity?"
Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs, 2018 Issue 36, pp. 1-55
Abstract: The scope of International legal inquiry has expanded considerably in recent years, in terms of the analytical perspectives brought to bear on the issues addressed, rather than merely their nature and intricacy. Traditional-style approaches continue to feature prominently in the cognitive toolkit relied upon to frame and dissect problems, but no longer exclusively and in an unadulterated form. Novel conceptual insights have been incorporated from the social sciences, injecting a multidisciplinary, and even interdisciplinary, element into the system. Economics has increasingly come to the fore in this context, both directly and indirectly, initially in relation to State compliance with international law and latterly on a wider basis. The narrowly focused, neoclassical paradigm featuring an assiduous, omniscient, and self-centered agent—homo economicus—has given way to more nuanced and multifaceted schemes but, as demonstrated in this article, the process of shrinking gaps in the explanatory façade and weaving together the disparate interpretative threads may have considerably further to go. The evolution of economically inspired international legal theory is traced here with a view to showing how post-neoclassical contributions, supported with empirical illustrations based on Eastern realities, persistently overlooked in the Western-dominated academic literature, might fruitfully enrich this body of knowledge and align it more tightly with behavioral patterns observed across different geographies throughout modern history.