The fox knows many things, the Greeks said, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In his most comprehensive work Ronald Dworkin argues that value in all its forms is one big thing: that what truth is, life means, morality requires, and justice demands are different aspects of the same large question. He develops original theories on a great variety of issues very rarely considered in the same book: moral skepticism, literary, artistic, and historical interpretation, free will, ancient moral theory, being good and living well, liberty, equality, and law among many other topics. What we think about any one of these must stand up, eventually, to any argument we find compelling about the rest.
Skepticism in all its forms — philosophical, cynical, or post-modern — threatens that unity. The Galilean revolution once made the theological world of value safe for science. But the new republic gradually became a new empire: the modern philosophers inflated the methods of physics into a totalitarian theory of everything. They invaded and occupied all the honorifics — reality, truth, fact, ground, meaning, knowledge, and being — and dictated the terms on which other bodies of thought might aspire to them, and skepticism has been the inevitable result. We need a new revolution. We must make the world of science safe for value.
Part one: Independence
2. Truth in Morals 3. External Skepticism [draft] 4. Morals and Causes [draft] 5. Internal Skepticism
Part two: Interpretation
6. Moral Responsibility 7. Interpretation in General. 8. Conceptual Interpretation
Part three: Ethics
9. Dignity [excerpt] 10. Free Will and Responsibility
Part four: Morality
11. From Dignity to Morality 12. Aid 13. Harm 14. Obligations [draft]
Part five: Politics
15. Political Rights and Concepts 16. Equality 17. Liberty 18. Democracy 19. Law [draft]
Epilogue. Dignity indivisible.
Boston University Law Review (vol. 90 no. 2, April 2010) brings a number of papers on Dworkin's book, including papers by Thomas Scanlon, Amartya Sen, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Frank I. Michelman, and Jeremy Waldron and a response from Ronald Dworkin. The papers are from a symposium on "Justice for Hedgehogs", September 25-26, 2009, at Boston University School of Law. Videos from the symposium can be found here!
Various drafts have circulated. Excerpts are available here & here.