Sovereign Virtue (häftad)
Häftad (Paperback / softback)
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Harvard University Press
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730 g
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Sovereign Virtue

The Theory and Practice of Equality

Häftad,  Engelska, 2002-03-01
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Equality is the endangered species of political ideals. Even left-of-center politicians reject equality as an ideal: government must combat poverty, they say, but need not strive that its citizens be equal in any dimension. In his new book Ronald Dworkin insists, to the contrary, that equality is the indispensable virtue of democratic sovereignty. A legitimate government must treat all its citizens as equals, that is, with equal respect and concern, and, since the economic distribution that any society achieves is mainly the consequence of its system of law and policy, that requirement imposes serious egalitarian constraints on that distribution. What distribution of a nation's wealth is demanded by equal concern for all? Dworkin draws upon two fundamental humanist principles--first, it is of equal objective importance that all human lives flourish, and second, each person is responsible for defining and achieving the flourishing of his or her own life--to ground his well-known thesis that true equality means equality in the value of the resources that each person commands, not in the success he or she achieves. Equality, freedom, and individual responsibility are therefore not in conflict, but flow from and into one another as facets of the same humanist conception of life and politics. Since no abstract political theory can be understood except in the context of actual and complex political issues, Dworkin develops his thesis by applying it to heated contemporary controversies about the distribution of health care, unemployment benefits, campaign finance reform, affirmative action, assisted suicide, and genetic engineering.
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Many philosophers would not be offended by the charge that philosophy is not a practical pursuit. Dworkin, a professor at New York University and University College in London, is deeply offended. He insists that philosophers can clarify the foundations of law to build a better world...In Sovereign Virtue, Dworkin attempts...first to establish principles and then apply them to today's vexing issues, including health care, campaign finance and affirmative action. -- Mitchell Goodman * Raleigh News & Observer * There is much that is brilliant in Dworkin's development of [his] themes. He reconceptualizes egalitarianism corrects only inequalities for which people are not responsible...[Dworkin] presents an original and comprehensive political theory that claims to unite equality not only with freedom but also with other allegedly competing values, such as democracy, community and the good life. And he repeatedly connects his abstract speculations to specific controversies from contemporary political life. This is what political philosophy should do, and Dworkin does it better than anyone else now writing. -- Thomas Hurka * Toronto Globe and Mail * Dworkin's aim in Sovereign Virtue is to rescue the 'endangered' value of equality and to accommodate it to personal responsibility...[His] position is what he calls an 'ethical individualism' embodying two principles: it is equally important, for each human life, that it be successful; and every person has a special responsibility for the success of his own life. If you take both these ideas seriously, you will be driven, so Dworkin argues, to demand equality of resources. This ideal is the core of the book, and he defends it in impressive detail against its main rivals--equality of welfare and equality of opportunity. * The Economist * This is a work of the first importance, by an outstanding philosopher of politics and law who is the most eloquent, thoughtful and judicious spokesman of the new centre-left-liberal position which in recent years has come to be called 'the third way'--a label conferred and expounded by lesser minds, but here given what is not only the deepest and most compelling statement it has yet received, but a statement which is, in addition, genuinely deep and compelling. -- A.C. Grayling * Financial Times * Dworkin is that rare creature, a public intellectual. He writes with clarity and economy, and while he is not hard to understand, he demands maximum concentration from his readersHe sets out not just to persuade us to think differently, but also to act differently. He wants to change not just our beliefs but our behavior tooSovereign Virtue is a book rich in arguments. Every objection is debated into submission; every alternative is pondered until its inadequacy becomes clear to the author. -- Anthony Julius * Sunday Telegraph * Sovereign Virtueisextraordinarily impressive: supple, suave and enviably deft, like all his work, and in its cumulative effect quite exceptionally illuminating[Dworkin] has been in many ways the most systematic moral, political and legal thinker of the past three decades in the Anglophone world. He may lack the personal authority or the singularity of mind of John Rawls. But on this evidence he has a substantially broader range of ambition, a set of forceful moral intuitions, a speed and boldness of intellectual manoeuvre, and a combination of energy and sheer pertinacity that are all his own. -- John Dunn * Times Higher Education Supplement * For Dworkin fans, indeed for any analytical political philosopher who rejects the 'new pragmatism' linguistic turn and relishes a complex argumentative structure, this book will provide many hours of intellectual stimulation. Just as we who are not ourselves great chess players or mathematicians can admire the minds of great chess players or mathematicians, so even skeptical readers may admire Dworkin's elegant a

Övrig information

Ronald Dworkin was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University.


Introduction: Does Equality Matter? I. Theory 1. Equality of Welfare 2. Equality of Resources 3. The Place of Liberty 4. Political Equality 5. Liberal Community 6. Equality and the Good Life 7. Equality and Capability II. Practice 8. Justice and the High Cost of Health 9. Justice, Insurance, and Luck 10. Free Speech, Politics, and the Dimensions of Democracy 11. Affirmative Action: Does It Work? 12. Affirmative Action: Is It Fair? 13. Playing God: Genes, Clones, and Luck 14. Sex, Death, and the Courts Sources Notes Index