Friday, August 28, 2009

Conference on Dworkin's "Justice for Hedgehogs"

Boston University School of Law will hold a conference on Ronald Dworkin’s forthcoming book, Justice for Hedgehogs, on September 25-26, 2009.

Dworkin himself will give the keynote address
and give a response.

From the program:

In "Justice for Hedgehogs", Dworkin defends the unity of value – the one big thing he knows – and argues against “several foxy causes”: value skepticism, value pluralism, value conflict, and, in particular, the supposed opposition between the values of self-interest and those of personal and political morality. He argues for the integration of ethics (the principles that tell human beings how to live well) and morality (the principles that tell them how they must treat other people), and for a morality of self-affirmation as against a morality of self-abnegation. In doing so, he develops accounts of the indispensable conditions of living well – dignity, self-respect, and authenticity – and of our moral duties to others regarding aid and harm. He also argues that law is a branch of political morality that is in turn a department of morality more broadly understood.


I. Truth and Metaethics
The opening panel will assess Dworkin’s arguments for truth about value and against various forms of skepticism, including his rejection of Archimedean and meta-ethical attempts to address questions of ethics, morality, and justice from a standpoint outside of our ordinary ways of thinking about them.

Aaron Garrett (Boston University)
Russ Shafer-Landau (University of Wisconsin)
Daniel Star (Boston University)
Michael Smith (Princeton University)

II. Interpretation
This panel will respond to Dworkin’s arguments that interpretation in general seeks truth and that moral reasoning and legal interpretation are enterprises involving conceptual interpretation as distinguished from collaborative and explanatory interpretation.

Richard Fallon (Harvard University)
James Fleming (Boston University)
David Lyons (Boston University)
Lawrence Solum (University of Illinois)
Benjamin Zipursky (Fordham University)

III. Ethics and Free Will
Herein of Dworkin’s arguments concerning the indispensable conditions of living well – dignity, self-respect, and authenticity – along with his response to the “no free will” challenge to ethical and moral responsibility.

Anita Allen (University of Pennsylvania)
Christine Jolls (Yale University)
Robert Kane (University of Texas)
T.M. Scanlon (Harvard University)
Amartya Sen (Harvard University)

IV. Morality: Aid, Harm, and Obligation
The issues to be considered include Dworkin’s arguments of substantive morality concerning duty, harm, and obligation, including associative and political obligation.

Kwame Anthony Appiah (Princeton University)
John Goldberg (Harvard University) [paper]
Frances Kamm (Harvard University)
Kenneth Simons (Boston University)
Susanne Sreedhar & Candice Delmas (Boston University)

V. -VI. Politics and Justice
These two panels will take up Dworkin’s arguments about political morality, including his account of political, legal, and human rights; his interpretive conceptions of equality, liberty, and democracy; and his argument about the relationship between law and morals.

Ed Baker (University of Pennsylvania)
Hugh Baxter (Boston University)
Linda McClain (Boston University) [paper]
Larry Sager (University of Texas)
Robin West (Georgetown University)

Robert Bone (Boston University) [paper]
Samuel Freeman (University of Pennsylvania)
Stephen Macedo (Princeton University)
Frank Michelman (Harvard University)
Robert Sloane (Boston University) [paper]
Jeremy Waldron (New York University)

Ronald Dworkin's book will be published by Harvard University Press later this year.

"Justice for Hedgehogs" was also the title of Ronald Dworkin's John Dewey Lectures at Columbia University in the autumn of 1998. Various drafts have circulated. Excerpts are available here
(synopsis + chapter 10-11), here (chapter 2+4) and here (chapter 14 and 20).

The strange title of Dworkin's book refers to an essay by Isaiah Berlin, entitled "The Hedgehog and the Fox. An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History" (1953) (online here). In this essay Berlin divides writers into two categories: "Hedgehogs", who view the world through the lens of a single, universal, organising principle, and "foxes", who draw on a wide variety of experiences and pursue many ends, often unrelated. The distinction is based on an aphorism by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

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