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Justice in Robes

Justice in Robes

Ronald Dworkin

ISBN 9780674027275

Publication date: 04/30/2008

How should a judge’s moral convictions bear on his judgments about what the law is? Lawyers, sociologists, philosophers, politicians, and judges all have answers to that question: these range from “nothing” to “everything.”
In Justice in Robes, Ronald Dworkin argues that the question is much more complex than it has often been taken to be and charts a variety of dimensions—semantic, jurisprudential, and doctrinal—in which law and morals are undoubtedly interwoven. He restates and summarizes his own widely discussed account of these connections, which emphasizes the sovereign importance of moral principle in legal and constitutional interpretation, and then reviews and criticizes the most influential rival theories to his own. He argues that pragmatism is empty as a theory of law, that value pluralism misunderstands the nature of moral concepts, that constitutional originalism reflects an impoverished view of the role of a constitution in a democratic society, and that contemporary legal positivism is based on a mistaken semantic theory and an erroneous account of the nature of authority. In the course of that critical study he discusses the work of many of the most influential lawyers and philosophers of the era, including Isaiah Berlin, Richard Posner, Cass Sunstein, Antonin Scalia, and Joseph Raz.
Dworkin’s new collection of essays and original chapters is a model of lucid, logical, and impassioned reasoning that will advance the crucially important debate about the roles of justice in law.

Praise

  • Dworkin, a professor of law and philosophy at NYU Law School and University College, London, has for a generation been an influential voice in the rarefied debate that has raged in academia over how best to construct a logically consistent and philosophically useful description of what law is and what law should do. In addition, Dworkin has been a strong voice defending the jurisprudence that supports abortion rights, free speech and other liberal positions in more public debates. Consistent with both roles, these essays explicate Dworkin's notion that law must have a moral component, and deconstruct and criticize the ideas of competing theorists. Against some of them, like the prolific Richard Posner, he takes the gloves off. For example, Dworkin describes one aspect of Posner's jurisprudence as 'remarkably implausible,' strong words from a philosopher. Dworkin's debate with others is more measured, but he is willing to step into the ring with each and defend his ideas. This is a serious, difficult book that succeeds in explaining what Dworkin believes, what the other theorists argue, and why it matters who is right.

    —Publishers Weekly

Author

  • Ronald Dworkin was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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