DWORKIN JUSTICE FOR HEDGEHOGS PDF

Table of Contents 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.

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Dec 30, robin friedman rated it it was amazing Dworkin And The Abandonment Of Colonial Metaphysics Ronald Dworkin -- enjoyed a long career as a writer on legal and political philosophy. The scope of his writing expanded over the years. In "Justice for Hedgehogs" , Dworkin broadens his scope from legal and political philosophy to address larger philosophical questions of metaphysics, Dworkin And The Abandonment Of Colonial Metaphysics Ronald Dworkin -- enjoyed a long career as a writer on legal and political philosophy.

In "Justice for Hedgehogs" , Dworkin broadens his scope from legal and political philosophy to address larger philosophical questions of metaphysics, interpretation and epistemology, and ethics. It is a challenging and wonderful work. It shows a healthy skepticism of any claim to know the single truth. Dworkin for his part takes the side of the hedgehog. In many respects. Dworkin realizes and plays upon this and develops his claims slowly and carefully.

In many respects, Dworkin draws heavily on modernism and modernistic arguments, especially in his emphasis on interpretation. He gives some ancient philosophical doctrines a modernistic turn. In reading this book, as with many philosophical works, it is best to read the introductory chapter carefully and return to it together with the concluding epilogue. Dworkin uses the phrase "colonial metaphysics" several times and speaks of the need finally for its abandonment p.

What he means is roughly this: many people have seen ethical truths as dependent somehow on a more basic form of metaphysics. With the Enlightenment, thinkers adopted a metaphysics of naturalism and tried to explain ethics within the terms of a scientific worldview.

This proved unsuccessful. Prior to that, many thinkers offered a religious, theistically based explanation for ethics. In both these cases and other cases, ethical truth was deemed dependent upon some other truth. Basically, ethical truths were viewed as analogously to discovering "things" "out there" in the way a scientist studies bodies or a theologian studies God. Dworkin denies that ethics has this form of metaphysical basis in "things".

That is why he claim that ethics should not be viewed as a "colony" of metaphysics and should be studied on its own terms. Dworkin makes creative use of the philosophy of David Hume who denied that ethical truths could be at all derived from what is. Early in the book, Dworkin tries to confront various forms of ethical skepticism and maintains, successfully or not, that the important forms of such skepticism are self-refuting.

Such arguments are regularly used in metaphysics, less commonly in ethics. He wants to find a form of ethics not rooted in theology or scientism. He finds such a source by discussing ethics as an interpretive discipline. Interpretation and meaning play large roles in much modern thinking. What distinguishes Dworkin in his claim that truth is found in interpretation, whether of legal texts, poems, or works of art and music.

People know in two ways, for Dworkin: we know the natural world scientifically and the ethical, human world through meaning. We discover truth differently, but in neither case, if it is to have meaning at all, is it "subjective".

Interpretive truth differs from scientific truth in that it is found through argument and in that its concepts are interrelated. In human life, Dworkin distinguishes and then interrelates what he calls ethics and morality.

Morality is the duty owed to others. As with all ethical concepts, ethics and morality fold together, I think, in leading the good life. Dworkin also is heavily influenced by what he sees as the interpretive, interrelated character of Platonic and Aristotelian ethics without their metaphysical trappings pp. Charles Peirce, mentioned all-too-briefly, is another thinker with a large influence on Dworkin pp As the book develops, Dworkin explains his independence thesis in the first part and his understanding of interpretation and its nature in the second part.

In the final part of the book, Dworkin returns to the legal and political philosophy which had been the focus of his efforts prior to this book. The book works best in its breadth, in its fresh and challenging discussion of truth, interpretation and unity. Observations on law and politics are interthreaded throughout the book, but the final section of the book on these matters seems to me rushed and less than convincing.

On occasion, Dworkin simply refers to his earlier writings, assuming perhaps too optimistically familiarity on behalf of his readers. The book takes a strong stance against scientism and its particular reductivism. Dworkin also rejects the tendency, common to critics of scientism and to people who use various forms of interpretive theory, to call for a return to God or to theology. This is an unabashedly secular book. Dworkin writes with a concern for understanding life in its shortness and mortality, faced with full knowledge of impending death.

By living life with ideals and in the search for truth, Dworkin concludes. We make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands. It is impressive in its scope, its argument, its erudition, and its love for the life of the mind and of culture. It offers a challenge to the reader at whatever stage of his or her life to rethink projects and priorities. The book deserves and will undoubtedly receive sustained study and attention.

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Justice for Hedgehogs

Ronald Dworkin 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.

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Academic scholarship these days is more like staying in a hotel than a home: Interpretive truth differs from scientific truth in that it is found through argument and in that its concepts are interrelated. The fox knows many things, the Greeks said, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Dworkin for his part takes the side of the hedgehog. The title refers to a distinction political philosopher Isaiah Berlin made between hedgehogs and foxes, based on an ancient Greek parable. Is it worse to deliberately kill another than to let him or her die?

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