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Justice for Hedgehogs

Justice for Hedgehogs

Ronald Dworkin

ISBN 9780674072251

Publication date: 02/25/2013

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The fox knows many things, the Greeks said, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In his most comprehensive work, Ronald Dworkin argues that value in all its forms is one big thing: that what truth is, life means, morality requires, and justice demands are different aspects of the same large question. He develops original theories on a great variety of issues very rarely considered in the same book: moral skepticism, literary, artistic, and historical interpretation, free will, ancient moral theory, being good and living well, liberty, equality, and law among many other topics. What we think about any one of these must stand up, eventually, to any argument we find compelling about the rest.

Skepticism in all its forms—philosophical, cynical, or post-modern—threatens that unity. The Galilean revolution once made the theological world of value safe for science. But the new republic gradually became a new empire: the modern philosophers inflated the methods of physics into a totalitarian theory of everything. They invaded and occupied all the honorifics—reality, truth, fact, ground, meaning, knowledge, and being—and dictated the terms on which other bodies of thought might aspire to them, and skepticism has been the inevitable result. We need a new revolution. We must make the world of science safe for value.

Praise

  • In a sustained, profound, and richly textured argument that will, from now on, be essential to all debate on the matter, Ronald Dworkin makes the case for…the unity of value… Dworkin writes as an applied philosopher; the topics he discusses are matters of practical importance. They affect whether and how people can give meaning to their lives. They make a difference in legislatures and courts of law whose decisions touch hundreds of millions of lives. That is what gives the overall argument its urgency, for Dworkin's principal aim in establishing the unity of value is the familiar and central one for him: to show how law and government can be based on political morality… He completes, in [the] final chapter, a chain of reasoning that can be seen as uniting convictions of personal morality with principles of political justice, and then showing how these are all gathered together in a larger system of moral ideals that he believes lawyers and judges must deploy in discovering what the abstract principles of the American Constitution really mean and require. We are in at the birth, here, of a modern philosophical classic, one of the essential works of contemporary thought. It is bound to be a major debate-changer, because even the many who will find much to disagree with—Dworkin, after all, disagrees with them in advance, and robustly—will not be able to ignore the challenges he poses. And out of the heat to come, much light will shine.

    —A. C. Grayling, New York Review of Books

Author

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

Book Details

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

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