Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Information

56 Am. J. Juris. 215 (2011) (book review)


Professor Dworkin begins this complex and ambitious book with a chapter called "Baedeker" after the nineteenth century guidebooks. In it, he gives an overview of his project, which is to show "the unity of value." The "title refers to a line by an ancient Greek poet, Archilochus, that Isaiah Berlin made famous for us. The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Value is one big thing" (1).

He articulates his overarching value in terms of human dignity: "[W]e each have a sovereign ethical responsibility to make something of value of our own lives, as a painter makes something valuable of his canvas" (13). He distinguishes between ethics and morality "in what might seem a special way. Moral standards prescribe how we ought to treat others; ethical standards, how we ought to live ourselves" (191). He derives morality from ethics, relying "mainly on Immanuel Kant's thesis that we cannot adequately respect our own humanity unless we respect humanity in others" (14). With this unitary value of human dignity in hand, Dworkin makes his way through a philosophical obstacle course with the quiet authority of a lifetime's reflection. He states objections fairly and answers them respectfully. While, as I shall try to show, there are more objections than he has taken up, and while many of his conclusions are open to disagreement, he gives his readers an interesting journey in good company.



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