Ronald Dworkin

TitleRonald Dworkin
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsGuest, S
PublisherStanford University Press

This is a lucid and comprehensive introduction to, and critical assessment of, Ronald Dworkin's seminal contributions to legal and political philosophy. His theories have a complexity, originality, and moral power that have excited a wide range of academic and political thinkers, and even those who disagree with him acknowledge that his ideas must be confronted and given serious consideration. His enormous output of books and papers and his formidable profusion of lectures and seminars throughout the world, in addition to his teaching duties at Oxford and New York University, have made him a giant figure in contemporary thought. In short, Dworkin's theory of law is that the nature of legal argument lies in the best moral interpretation of existing social practices. His theory of Justice is that all political judgements ought to rest ultimately upon the injunction that people are equal as human beings, irrespective of the circumstances in which they are born. Dworkin does not fit into an orthodox category. his theory of law is radical in that it sees legal argument primarily about rights yet conservative in seeing it as constrained by history. He is libertarian both in valuing ambition and in asserting a right to pornography, yet socialist in believing that no person has a right to a greater share of resources than anyone else. in particular, he advocates a system that would tax people on the resources they accumulate solely through their talent alone. Because Dworkin writes for a number of audiences - sometimes the general public, sometimes academic lawyers, sometimes philosophers and economists - it is often difficult to identify the different strands of his thought. The book aims to make his theories clear and accessible and to give an overall picture of his thinking that is sympathetic yet rigorously argued.