Ginsburg Responds to Comments in Harvard International Law Journal Symposium

HILJ Symposium: Getting to the Right Answers about Rights
Tom Ginsburg and Zachary Elkins
Opinio Juris
March 6, 2013

Tom Ginsburg is Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Zachary Elkins is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

This post is part of the Harvard International Law Journal Volume 54(1) symposium. Other posts from this series can be found in the related posts below.

In recent years there has been an active debate in the social sciences about the distinct “cultures” of qualitative and quantitative inquiry. Gary Goertz and James Mahoney, A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Inquiry in the Social Sciences (2012). We ourselves have been skeptical of the extent of this purported divide, as our prior collective and individual work has sought to integrate the strengths of the two approaches. Professor Christopher Roberts’ thoughtful comments on our article demonstrate, in our view, the basic complementarity of the methodologies.

Our article demonstrates a set of statistical relationships that are consistent with the interpretation that we give them: that constitutional and international rights are reciprocally produced, and that an important channel of impact for international human rights has been their adoption by national constitution-makers. Roberts draws on the historical literature to both supplement and challenge elements of this story, and to make the important point that it is, as always, a bit more complicated.