Click to view in your browser (mobile-friendly version)

The UC Irvine Law, Reason and Value Series

The New Legal Realist Approach
to International Law

Presented by Gregory Shaffer

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5:00–6:30 p.m.

UC Irvine School of Law, Room LAW 3500

Please join us for the second meeting of Law, Reason and Value, UC Irvine’s new colloquium in jurisprudence, co-sponsored by the School of Humanities and the School of Law.

Gregory ShafferOur speaker is Gregory Shaffer, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Director of the Center on International, Transnational, and Comparative Law at UC Irvine.
Prof. Shaffer will summarize his paper, followed by Q&A with faculty and students.

A new legal realist approach to international law does not address the conceptual question of what is law in the abstract, or what is the relation of law to morals, the conventional questions asked in analytic jurisprudence today. New legal realism rather builds from a jurisprudential tradition that asks how actors use and apply law in order to advance our understanding of three interrelated questions - how law obtains meaning, is practiced (the law-in-action), and changes over time.

A new legal realist approach is thus both empirical and problem-centered in the tradition of legal pragmatism. What is new from the old legal realism is two-fold. First, there have been major developments in the social world that significantly broaden the areas for understanding international law from a socio-legal perspective, and in particular in relation to transnational problem-solving in which international law plays a role. This situation is completely different from when the old legal realists wrote in the 1930s and focused only on U.S. domestic law at a time of retreat from transnational economic and cultural exchange. Second, there have been major developments in empirical methods as applied to law, with growing interest among scholars regarding how international law conditionally operates in light of social, economic and political developments. Click here for paper (PDF) >

Dinner for faculty follows. Contact Jeff Helmreich at