International Law and the Future, 50 Mississippi Law Journal 259 (1979)
It should require no elaborate demonstration that the founders of these Memorial Lectures, in directing that all lectures be concerned with the role of law in the future, were possessed of very wise insight. In its most useful conception, dating far back into antiquity, law is regarded as a process of authoritative decision through which the members of a community seek to clarify and secure their common interests; in any conception which aspires to keep touch with empirical reality, law must be regarded as making some ultimate reference to decision. The making of any decision of community importance, whether by the criteria of authority or of naked power and whatever the size of the community, requires a choice in the present among future alternatives in action and outcome. It is the distinctive task of lawyers, functionally conceived, both to establish and maintain a community process of authoritative decision and to direct and manage that process to clarify and secure the common interests of community members in demanded values. Hence, however much lawyers may venerate the past and futilely endeavor through the doctrine of precedent to effect its repetition, their primary concern must be effectively to intervene in the present for managing the future on behalf of the communities and private clients they represent. The maxim "governer c'est prévoir" expresses not merely a Gallic but a universal wisdom.
Date of Authorship for this Version
McDougal, Myres S., "International Law and the Future" (1979). Faculty Scholarship Series. 2662.