Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New book by Dworkin: "Justice for Hedgehogs"

Justice for Hedgehogs

by Ronald Dworkin

(Belknap Press, January 2011)

528 pages


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.


1. Baedeker

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.

Ronald Dworkin is Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

An excerpt from Chapter 9 on ethics (pp. 191-199) has been published in "The New York Review of Books" (February 10, 2011), entitled "What Is a Good Life?".

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