Monday 29 October 2018, 12:30 - 14:00

An Extended Critique of International Adjunction

Ingo Venzke

Professor of International Law and Social Justice, University of Amsterdam

Room P1-S8, Maison de la paix

The paper illustrates how different ways of thinking about past judicial decisions effects their appearance. More specifically, it draws on insights from experiments to show what explaining past judicial decisions not only increases the perceived likelihood of those decisions but also makes them look more just. Conversely, thinking about alternative decisions makes them look less likely and less agreeable. In short, the appearance of the path of international law very much depends on the posture with which it is received.

            These findings build on, and add to, so far largely separated strands of inquiry: First, they are inspired by social-psychological research on the benefit and bias of hindsight as well as the potentially debiasing effect of counterfactual thinking. Second, they substantiate claims about the social effects of rationalizing legal analysis.

Overall, the paper argues that looking back at the path of international law may lead international lawyers into giving too much credit to what has happened. Hindsight renders past judicial decision more natural and more just. Turning to counterfactual thinking in response has a corrective potential and, more generally, disentangles mental processes that are otherwise conflated in making sense of what has happened. The chapter thus seeks to shake the path on which international law depends.


Fuad Zarbiyev, Assistant Professor, International Law, the Graduate Institute

This lecture is part of the Global Governance Colloquium series.

A light sandwich lunch will be served as of 12.15

Registration / Inscription

Participants are limited due to space constraint. Registration is on a first-register first-served basis