Dworkin on Human Rights

Jurisprudence (Hart Publishing) (Forthcoming)

12 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2013

See all articles by George Letsas

George Letsas

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: March 22, 2013


This paper critically assesses Ronald Dworkin's theory of human rights in the light of his interpretivist approach. According to this approach, no part of the practice of human rights is a constraint on theory construction unless there is a practice-independent value that makes that relevant. Dworkin's suggestion that the value of legitimacy underpins the practice of human rights is sound, but it explains only part of the current practice of human rights. I argue that the value of legitimacy leaves unexplained the normative concerns raised by treaty-based human rights obligations (such as the ECHR), and that no single moral value can account for the rich and complex practice of human rights.

Keywords: philosophy of human rights, interpretivism, practice-dependent theories, Ronald Dworkin, legitimacy, international law, European Convention on Human Rights, political conception of rights

Suggested Citation

Letsas, George, Dworkin on Human Rights (March 22, 2013). Jurisprudence (Hart Publishing) (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2237860 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2237860

George Letsas (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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