Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Unconscious or Behavioral: Psychological States in International Law

WZB Talk by Ríán Derrig

In international law the state is frequently ascribed human characteristics, both as a collective entity and a group of individuals. How has this tendency to personify the state been influenced by different schools of psychological theory? In this talk I outline two hypotheses concerning this influence. The first is that some legal scholars have constructed theories of the state responsive to psychodynamic theories of the unconscious. In different ways these scholars have sought to use the unconscious and irrationality to construct social order. The second is that behavioural theories of psychology have prompted different understandings of relations between the individual, law and the state. Scholars employing behavioural premises have developed conceptions of the state characterised by the individual and collective pursuit of rational interests. I discuss examples of legal theories of the state influenced by both psychodynamic and behavioural approaches to psychology. At a time of rising authoritarianism, I reflect on the particular relevance of inquiring into these different ways of understanding relations between psychological theory, law and the state.

Please note that this event takes place in English only with no translation.

The event is part of the WZB Talks series.

Ríán Derrig is research fellow at the WZB Center for Global Constitutionalism.

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