Would a jurisdiction supremely confident that some or all of its own municipal law rests on natural law and universal legal truth ever have a good, purely principled, reason to look to ordinary choice of law principles and apply the substantive law of another place in a case involving foreign elements? This essay, a chapter in an upcoming volume on “The Role of Ethics in International Law,” suggests several such reasons, some of them grounded in the natural law tradition itself and in sustained analysis of the relationship between natural law (if such a thing exists) and positive law. The essay also suggests at least a rough analogy between the jurisprudential challenges of choice of law and the theological challenges of interreligious encounter. It ends with a short effort apply the general argument to the specific question of the inter-jurisdictional recognition of same-sex marriages.
The paper is forthcoming in The Role of Ethics in International Law, Donald Earl Childress III, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2010.