RONALD DWORKIN, Arthur Ripstein, ed., pp. 1-21, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
23 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2008
Date Written: January 1, 2007
Ronald Dworkin occupies a distinctive place in both public life and philosophy. In public life, he is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and other widely read journals. In philosophy he has written important and influential works on many of the most prominent issues in legal and political philosophy. In both cases, his interventions have in part shaped the debates he joined. His opposition to Robert Bork's nomination for the United States Supreme Court gave new centrality to debates about the public role of judges and the role of original intent in constitutional interpretation. His writings in legal philosophy have reoriented the modem debate about legal positivism and natural law. In political philosophy he has shaped the ways in which people debate the nature of equality; he has spawned a substantial literature about the relation between luck and responsibility in distributive justice; he has reframed debates about the sanctity of life.
Dworkin's public and philosophical voices are closely connected. He criticizes Robert Bork for his deficient views about the relation between law and morality, the proper conception of democracy, and the philosophy of language. During the Vietnam War, he used his general account of the relation between law and morality to explain the relation between draft resistance, civil disobedience, and the rule of law. His account of equality of resources frames his interventions in public debates about health insurance. His understanding of debates about the sanctity of life engaged with both public debates and more abstract questions about the relation between political and personal morality.
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