Res Publica 22 (4):463-479 (2016)

In his 2011 book Justice for Hedgehogs, Ronald Dworkin makes a case for the view that genuine values cannot conflict and, moreover, that they are necessarily mutually supportive. I argue that by prioritizing coherence over the conceptual authenticity of values, Dworkin’s ‘interpretivist’ view risks neglecting what we care about in these values. I first determine Dworkin’s position on the monism/pluralism debate and identify the scope of his argument, arguing that despite his self-declared monism, he is in fact a pluralist, but unusual in denying conflict between plural values. I then set out the structure of his interpretive theory of value relations and present a case of value conflict which I think interpretivism cannot deal with. Following this I argue that there are structural reasons why cases like this are liable to occur and suggest that interpretivism will frequently fail to properly reflect people’s moral commitments because reinterpretation of values has the side effect of excluding important moral commitments from our conceptions of values. While, as Dworkin argues, there are no brute moral facts concerning values, moral psychology constrains the range of acceptable conceptions of values. Given the shortcomings of interpretivism I conclude that we should acknowledge that values may conflict.
Keywords Dworkin  Pluralism  Monism  Interpretation  Values
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-015-9285-y
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Justice for Hedgehogs.Ronald Dworkin - 2011 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Law’s Empire.Ronald Dworkin - 1986 - Harvard University Press.
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich.G. A. Cohen - 2000 - The Journal of Ethics 4 (1-2):1-26.

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