Compliance and Public Authority: A Theory with International Applications

Compliance and Public Authority: A Theory with International Applications

Compliance and Public Authority: A Theory with International Applications

Compliance and Public Authority: A Theory with International Applications

Excerpt

The origins of this study lie in some serious doubts I have harbored for many years about several widely shared beliefs pertaining to international relations. Specifically, I have never felt comfortable either with the proposition that the fundamental problems of the international system are attributable to the absence of centralized international institutions of government or with the argument that international law is not really law at all because of the absence of formalized enforcement mechanisms. These doubts have induced me to think repeatedly about the nature of rules in international society as well as about the factors that determine whether individual actors comply with or violate these rules.

Considerations of this sort initiated a thought process that soon led me to broaden my focus. It was not long before I realized that international society is a member of the set of highly decentralized social systems, and that there might well be similarities among all the members of this set with respect to the problem of compliance. From here, it was only natural to take an additional step and to think about the problem of compliance as it arises in the whole class of social systems. As a theoretician, I had little hesitation in expanding the scope of my reflections in search of powerful generalizations about the problem of compliance.

As a result, I quickly found myself engaged in an effort to construct a theory of compliance at the most general level. This effort is reflected in the theoretical chapters of this monograph. Even as I began increasingly to think about compliance in general terms, however, I did not lose interest in the initial puzzles that precipitated my concern. I found that I retained a desire to sort out what struck me as serious confusions about the nature of the international system. Therefore, I have also made a concerted effort to apply my ideas about compliance to that specific case.

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