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Exploring Law's EmpireThe Jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin$
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Scott Hershovitz

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546145.001.0001

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Law's Aims in Law's Empire

Law's Aims in Law's Empire

(p.207) 9 Law's Aims in Law's Empire
Exploring Law's Empire

John Gardner

Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to show that a certain plausible reading of Dworkin's view of law as an ‘interpretive enterprise’ pushes him towards legal positivism. Dworkin argues that some unifying-and-distinctive purpose for law must be posited if arguments about the nature of law are to get off the ground. Dworkin proffers a provisional suggestion for this purpose: ‘to guide and constrain the power of government... [so that] force not be used or withheld... except as licensed or required by individual rights and responsibilities... ’. But, it is argued, Dworkin's Suggested Purpose (DSP) is implausible. One way of salvaging DSP is to read Dworkin as espousing a thesis similar to that of John Finnis, that law aims to be morally justified. Whether this thesis can justifiably be attributed to Dworkin is discussed in some detail. One problem with attributing this thesis to Dworkin is that it presupposes the truth of legal positivism.

Keywords:   Dworkin, interpretation, justification, legal positivism

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