Plausible folk theories: throwing veils of plausibility over zones of ignorance in global governance

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Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 07 April 2015


Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
Coombs Extenson Building


Professor Terry Halliday


Emma Larking
+61 (0)2 6125 1513

To justify major enterprises of global lawmaking and regulation, monitoring and surveillance, international organizations (IOs) must confront and manage realms of relative ignorance about the phenomena they intend to govern, monitor and regulate. They must justify to audiences of states, officials,  industries, NGOs and interest groups the scope and forms of transnational interventions in domestic law, politics and society.

This RegNet Key Thinker Seminar investigates how a variety of IOs create plausible folk theories that have surface or face validity for easy comprehension and superficial persuasiveness. They proceed on the premises of these theories to build their transnational legal orders and regulatory empires on flimsy foundations.

The paper draws on fieldwork undertaken with my collaborators (Michael Levi, Peter Reuter) on studies of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (e.g., the Financial Action Task Force, IMF), and trade lawmaking by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law  (with Susan Block-Lieb).

Professor Terry Halliday is Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation and Co-Director of the Foundation’s Center on Law and Globalization. He is Adjunct Professor at RegNet and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University.

He is a specialist in law-making and institution-building, focusing in his research on the globalization of markets and politics, with particular attention to global norm-making in international organizations. 

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet