Date of Award

Summer 1988

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




At the outset of his most recent book Ronald Dworkin summarizes with remarkable concision the main lines of his entire legal philosophy, that legal reasoning is an exercise in constructive interpretation. That our law consists in the best justification of our legal practices as a whole, that it consists in the narrative story that makes of these practices the best they can be. In broad terms the purposes of this study can be stated equally concisely. First, as an expository account it is intended both to present in detail the substance of Dworkin's sometimes cryptic views in legal theory and to trace their development over the course of his several celebrated but controversial works. Second, as a critical account it seeks to answer two overall evaluative questions. Does Dworkin's analysis of law as an interpretive concept - with the central role he assigns to such seemingly non-juridical concepts as integrity, institutional history and political morality - provide a plausible or valuable account of what law is? And granting the value of Dworkin's theory, can it offer solutions to the most pressing theoretical problems presently under debate in legal philosophy? In particular, what account does Dworkin offer for: (1) the relationship of a community's law with its background morality and its forms of political practice;...



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