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The Limits of Integrity

John D. Inazu

Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

March 8, 2012

Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 75, 2012
Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-03-01

This article draws upon the work of theologian Stanley Hauerwas to demonstrate how Ronald Dworkin’s theory of law as integrity relies upon secular liberal presuppositions. Dworkin’s constraint on “religious convictions or goals” not only inhibits theological argument in our discussions about law and legal interpretation, but also neutralizes what may be the strongest objections to Dworkin’s normative views. The juxtaposition of Hauerwas and Dworkin is particularly apt because both hold similar interpretive commitments that hang in the balance between a fixed textualism and an unbounded pragmatism. Both justify their epistemic practices by a kind of faith — they do not and cannot know what comes next in their interpretive traditions.

Part I sketches Dworkin’s interpretive theory, and Part II notes its limitations. Part III introduces Hauerwas’s views on interpretation and suggests commonalities between Dworkin and Hauerwas. Parts IV and V illustrate the exclusionary effects of Dworkin’s premises on Hauerwas’s arguments by comparing the ways in which both thinkers approach the abortion controversy. Hauerwas’s arguments show that Dworkin has either imported his own normative commitments into his interpretive premises or failed to distinguish law as integrity from the constraints of public reason. Put differently, either Law's Empire or Life's Dominion has overreached. Dworkin hasn’t told us which it is, but Hauerwas shows us why the question cannot go unanswered.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Hauerwas, Dworkin, Rawls, integrity, public reason, abortion, theology, interpretation

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Date posted: March 9, 2012 ; Last revised: November 29, 2012

Suggested Citation

Inazu, John D., The Limits of Integrity (March 8, 2012). Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 75, 2012; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-03-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2018299

Contact Information

John D. Inazu (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
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