John K. Setear

  • Class of 1962 Professor of Law

John Setear joined the Law School as professor of law in 1998. He primarily teaches courses in international law, including international environmental law and counterfactual diplomatic history.

Setear joined the faculty of UCLA Law School in 1991 after serving as a policy analyst in the behavioral sciences department of the RAND Corporation. During the 1995-96 academic year, he was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He taught a winter study course at Williams College in 1989, 1990, and 2003.

While in law school, Setear was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. Following graduation, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Scholarship Profile: Explaining the Game of International Law and Politics (Virginia Journal 2008)


  • J.D.
    Yale Law School
  • B.A.
    Williams College

Book Chapters:

“Constraints” (with Richard Darilek), in F. Stephen Larrabee & Robert Blackwill, eds., Conventional Arms Control and East-West Security (Duke University Press, 1989).

“Quantitative Modeling and Non-Provocative Defense,” in Wim Smit & Marlies ter Borg, eds., Non-Provocative Defense as a Principle of Arms Reduction (Free University Press, Amsterdam, 1989).


“Carlin and Collapse,” 101 Proc. Am. Soc’y Int’l L. 171 (2007).

“In-Version,” 58 Stan. L. Rev. 1721 (2006).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"A Forest with No Trees: The Supreme Court and International Law in the 2003 Term," 91 Va. L. Rev. 579 (2005).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Room for Law: Realism, Evolutionary Biology, and the Promise(s) of International Law," 23 Berkeley J. Intl L. 1 (2005).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Treaties, Custom, Iteration, and Public Choice," 5 Chi. J. Intl L. 715 (2005).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Can Legalization Last?: Whaling and the Durability of National (Executive) Discretion,” 44 Va. J. Int’l L. 711 (2004).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"The President's Rational Choice of a Treaty's Preratification Pathway: Article II, Congressional-Executive Agreement, or Executive Agreement?," 31 J. Legal Stud. S5 (2002).
SSRN Abstract | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Learning To Live with Losing: International Environmental Law in the New Millenium," 20 Va. Envtl. L.J. 139 (2001).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Treaties, Custom, Rational Choice, and Public Choice," 94 Proc. Am. Soc'y Int'l L. 187 (2000).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Ozone, Iteration, and International Law,” 40 Va. J. Int'l L. 193 (1999).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Law in the Service of Politics: Moving Neo-Liberal Institutionalism from Metaphor to Theory by Using the International Treaty Process To Define ‘Iteration,’” 37 Va. J. Int'l L. 641 (1997).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Responses to Breach of a Treaty and Rationalist International Relations Theory: The Rules of Release and Remediation in the Law of Treaties and the Law of State Responsibility,” 83 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1997).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“An Iterative Perspective on Treaties: A Synthesis of International Relations Theory and International Law,” 37 Harv. Int'l L. J. 139 (1996).
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“A Game of Urban Drug Policy” (with James Kahan et al.), 1 Peace and Conflict 275 (1995).

Developing Games on Local Drug Policy (with James Kahan et al.) (RAND Note, 1992), D.

Arms-Control Constraints on Conventional Forces in Europe (with Richard Darilek) (RAND Note, 1990).

The Army in a Changing World: The Role of Organizational Vision (principal author, with Carl Builder et al.) (RAND Report, 1990).

A Political-Military Game of Protracted Conflict in Central Europe (RAND Note, 1990).

“The Barrister and the Bomb: The Dynamics of Cooperation, Nuclear Deterrence, and Discovery Abuse,” 69 B. U. L. Rev. 569 (1989).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Comment: Judges’ Opinions on Procedural Issues,” 69 B. U. L. Rev. 765 (1989).
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Protracted Conflict in Central Europe: A Conceptual Analysis (RAND Note, 1989).

“Discovery Abuse Under the Federal Rules: Causes and Cures,” 92 Yale L. J. 352 (1982).

Current Courses

All Courses

Colloquium in International Relations Theory (seminar)
Environmental Drafting and Negotiating (seminar)
Global Warming (seminar)
How We Get Into War (seminar)
International Environmental Law
International Ifs: Historical Hypothetical (seminar)
International Law
Seminar in Ethical Values
War Crimes (seminar)



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