A Brief Historical Sketch of an Anthropological Analysis of the Development of International and Comparative Law

20 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017

Date Written: November 13, 2017


Why do different cultures lead to different laws? After all, the way law operates is based in logic best and most efficient way for the laws to govern human society to carry out their lives – if it were not so, we would change our patterns of existence. Why do people around the world persist in continuing with different law structures contrary to the United Nations and other international organizations expect them to conform? All social scientists try to answer such questions, but anthropologists work through contact with exotic societies and attempt to explain their behavior. Of course by explaining the behavior of others, these scientists ultimately try to understand their own society.

Social scientists interested in the populations in the world developed different answers to the basic questions: are all humans alike or are they different? How are they alike and how are they different? This is the fundamental problem in anthropology. It is easy to see material and cultural differences when encountering different cultures. Using the concepts of culture and cultural relatively that were popularized and made fundamental in anthropology by the students of Franz Boas, this “American school of Anthropology” emphasized the differences between populations. At the same time, most Europe scholars accepted the psychological unity of mankind, the hypothesis that all humans think alike.

Cultural relativity, the argument that all socially approved behavior can only be understood in the context of its own cultural setting can be interpreted in a manner that discourages cross-cultural comparison and even negates the notion that all humanity uses the same thinking process.

Keywords: Anthropology, comparative law

Suggested Citation

Lincoln IV, Charles Edward Andrew, A Brief Historical Sketch of an Anthropological Analysis of the Development of International and Comparative Law (November 13, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3070414 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3070414

Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV (Contact Author)

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law ( email )


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