In Favor of Foxes: Pluralism as Fact and Aid to the Pursuit of Justice

18 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2010 Last revised: 24 Jun 2010


How admirable it is to use words to resolve conflicts between people. Using words rather than fists or bombs is valuable not only because it avoids physical destruction but also because it lays the predicate for more peaceable exchange, because it reflects and engenders respect, and because it creates the possibility of persuasion or for mutual agreement to coexist. Ronald Dworkin’s extraordinary career displays possible heights that the use of words to address human conflict can reach. In both form and substance, Dworkin’s work manifests profound respect for human beings and the dignity of each distinct person. It is with the respect he has both modeled and so ably earned that we offer these comments in rather diametric opposition to his most recent sterling accomplishment. For while Dworkin celebrates the “hedgehog” of unity of truth, we find the messier variety of plural truths more in keeping with lived experience, more attuned to the transparency and inclusiveness of debates over the good and the right, and more likely to reach the variety of human beings that such debates are meant to affect. Here, then, we suggest that values are plural, not unitary, and are better seen that way than sanded and recast to appear singular and unitary. It is not only possible, but also familiar and rewarding, to work through real problems with direct attention to plural values. At stake in these seemingly abstract and methodological differences are not only aesthetic tastes but also forms of justification and forms of human engagement through which real people can work through real problems.

Keywords: Jurisprudence, Legal Theory, Conflict of Laws

Suggested Citation

Minow, Martha and Singer, Joseph W., In Favor of Foxes: Pluralism as Fact and Aid to the Pursuit of Justice. Boston University Law Review, Vol. 90, p. 101, 2010, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-30, Available at SSRN:

Martha Minow

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Griswold 200
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joseph W. Singer (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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