Law's Empire

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Harvard University Press, 1986 - History - 470 pages
13 Reviews

With the incisiveness and lucid style for which he is renowned, Ronald Dworkin has written a masterful explanation of how the Anglo-American legal system works and on what principles it is grounded. Law's Empire is a full-length presentation of his theory of law that will be studied and debatedóby scholars and theorists, by lawyers and judges, by students and political activistsófor years to come.

Dworkin begins with the question that is at the heart of the whole legal system: in difficult cases how do (and how should) judges decide what the law is? He shows that judges must decide hard cases by interpreting rather than simply applying past legal decisions, and he produces a general theory of what interpretation isóin literature as well as in lawóand of when one interpretation is better than others. Every legal interpretation reflects an underlying theory about the general character of law: Dworkin assesses three such theories. One, which has been very influential, takes the law of a community to be only what the established conventions of that community say it is. Another, currently in vogue, assumes that legal practice is best understood as an instrument of society to achieve its goals. Dworkin argues forcefully and persuasively against both these views: he insists that the most fundamental point of law is not to report consensus or provide efficient means to social goals, but to answer the requirement that a political community act in a coherent and principled manner toward all its members. He discusses, in the light of that view, cases at common law, cases arising under statutes, and great constitutional cases in the Supreme Court, and he systematically demonstrates that his concept of political and legal integrity is the key to Anglo-American legal theory and practice.

  

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Review: Law's Empire

User Review  - Markus McDowell - Goodreads

Quite readable, but the concepts are deep. Dworkin is a philosopher, and to fully understand his theories of law requires a good bit of work, and a decent understanding of the law and of philosophy. I ... Read full review

Review: Law's Empire

User Review  - Bisser Dyankov - Goodreads

Must-read for all who want to be active citizens. However, it represents an intellectual complexity that might be cumbersome for those who have little knowledge of law. This is not because of terminology but of the pace and complexity of structuring both legal and logical arguments. Read full review

Contents

ONE WHAT IS LAW? I
1
TWO INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS
45
THREE JURISPRUDENCE REVISITED
87
FOUR CONVENTIONALISM
114
SIX INTEGRITY I 76
176
SEVEN INTEGRITY IN LAW
225
EIGHT THE COMMON LAW
276
NINE STATUTES
313
TEN THE CONSTITUTION
355
ELEVEN LAW BEYOND LAW
400
Notes
417
Index
455
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Ronald Dworkin is Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University. He is the 2007 recipient of the Holberg International Memorial Prize.

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