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Justice for Hedgehogs Hardcover – February 10, 2011
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To have expressed all his views as emanating from one stock value in such a relatively short book, Dworkin might have had to omit steps in arguments which, no doubt, his critics will pursue.Read more ›
If this thesis sounds like cowboy justice unfit for a philosopher, think again. Dworkin starts with a summary of the whole book and his motivations in chapter 1, and he methodically spends the rest of the book defending them.
This book is a philosophical essay, but a very readable one for anyone with a small amount of background knowledge. Dworkin takes extra care not to lose anyone along the way in unclear terminology, although the book may spark an interest in more reading you didn't know you had. The 400+ pages are are clear, detailed, and accessible to anyone who's ever even heard of Rawls, Kant, or John Stuart Mill. If you haven't heard of them, you may have to make a few trips to Wikipedia or to Intro to Western Philosophy 101, but Dworkin summarizes arguments for and against anything he discusses, so extra references aren't necessary otherwise.
Bottom line- if you believe the the hedgehog, read the book. If you don't believe the hedgehog, read the book.
Basing his title in a metaphor from an ancient Greek poem that the fox knows many things while the lowly hedgehog knows one "big thing", Dworkin sides with the hedgehog against the smug and relativistic fox. The "ordinary view" of the hedgehog--meaning a kind of intuitive view of the objective reality and relevance of values in individual lives and political society--is essentially correct, and therefore it merits sophisticated philosophical defense and explication. " . . . I believe that there are objective truths about value. I believe that some institutions really are unjust and some acts really are wrong . . ." (p. 7) Dworkin asserts " . . . that all true values form an interlocking network, that each of our convictions about what is good or right or beautiful plays some role in supporting each of our other convictions in each of those domains of value." (p. 120) To put this differently and as is often stated in in the text, there is a unity of all values, a unity which cannot be evaded by the wily fox without engaging in self-contradiction. All this strays far from orthodox positions found in learned circles. At the same time Dworkin disavows any dependence on metaphysics, scientism, or religion--his thinking is purely secular.Read more ›
Mr. Dworkin is willing to take on these views and argue them rationally, to show where they fail rationally.
He is also willing to state that values exist and to attempt their rational explanation.
Finally, he stands up to argue for a well-lived value- driven life based on using my mind to find my way.
To find all 3 elements in one book, and so open yourself to an immediate external check of coherence of you ethics, rationality, and powers of clear argumentation takes courage and commands my respect.
To do it well, intellectually, and to be readable and often even funny while doing so, is art.
As I am working my way through the book still, and will probably need time to digest and reflect his work, I cannot yet say whether he fails or succeeds in his goal of creating a clear recipe for a well-lived life on a rational basis, for me personally. Even if he did not, the failure might be mine in following his approach, not his in creating it.
But he succeeds already now at improving my analysis of arguments and thought processes, at leading me to question myself, in a constructive way of good teaching, and so his book is already now a gift to me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My Son said:
Amazing! I finished on Wednesday . I already have a seminar to present the next class on chapter three (External Skepticism).
cute cover picture. don't be fooled. this is a sophisticated, complex read. get ready to think about what you are reading, and go back to read a sentence or paragraph over if... Read morePublished 17 months ago by tampamotorman
The book came in excellent condition, and is much appreciated, It came well wrapped and undamaged in any way. Read morePublished on June 8, 2014 by Natalie Norman Baer
Deep analysis of ethic and moral concepts, Dworkin walks the reader through the development of his positions. Read morePublished on April 18, 2014 by Pablo Zaccara
I have not finished reading this book as yet but I think it has something to teach me so I will lumber through. Not an easy read at all, but I will complete it.Published on January 3, 2014 by Loughlin Tatem
I don't know much about the hedgehog or the fox. But Mr. Dworken does and shares with us in great detail what is what.Published on December 18, 2013 by douglas r. harding
Ronald Dworkin (b. 1931) has enjoyed a long career as a writer on legal and political philosophy. In addition to his many books, Dworkin writes for a broad public in analyzing... Read morePublished on July 12, 2011 by Robin Friedman