Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously
The Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory Edited by Jacob T. Levy DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198717133.013.18
16 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019
Date Written: July 31, 2019
Taking Rights Seriously is concerned above all with due process, both in law and politics. In this respect, his theory of law and critique of legal positivism frames his theory of politics. He conceives both law and politics in terms of a “right to equality,” the aim being to show individuals equal concern and respect. However, whereas he regards legal process as a matter of principle, orientated toward viewing our relations with others in terms of justice, he treats political process as dealing only with policy and focused on promoting the general welfare. The result is an account of law and politics that is original yet idiosyncratic. Though he sees rights-based judicial review as legitimately trumping utilitarian democratic decisions, his account of legal deliberation is in its way democratic, as his view of civil disobedience illustrates, and could apply as much — if not more — to legislatures as to courts.
Keywords: Dworkin, rights, utilitarianism, equality, legal positivism, democracy, judicial review, civil disobedience
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