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Globalization, empire and natural law

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Three controversial concepts are central to discussion on how international order originates, how it operates, and ultimately how we should respect it: globalization, empire and natural law. Each of these is examined in turn in this article. The currently prevalent way of thinking about globalization simply as a system of inter-connections, of processes and networks that span national and cultural boundaries is likely to produce anti-globalization backlashes. Many people reach the conclusion that global rules are simply a euphemism for some sort of imperial or neo-imperial rule. Consequently, there is an increasingly intense discussion of the role of force and power in a global order. This article suggests an alternative mechanism for creating global order. The power of globalization rests not simply on material prosperity, but on the ability to communicate and share ideas as well as goods across large geographical and cultural distances. Natural law theories suggest that a sustained dialogue between apparently rival traditions of thinking can lead to agreement on shared norms and values.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University, and Marie Curie Professor at the European University Institute.

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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