Ronald Dworkin Quotes

Best 18 Quotes by Ronald Dworkin

“Balanced is a code for 'denied': a right to free speech that must be 'balanced' against so exhaustive a list of other supposed values means a right that can be exercised only when those in power judge that the speech in question is innocuous to them.”

“Death has dominion because it is not only the start of nothing but the end of everything, and how we think and talk about dying – the emphasis we put on dying with 'dignity' – shows how important it is that life ends appropriately, that death keeps faith with the way we have lived it.”

“Integrity is the key to understanding legal practice. Law's empire is defined by attitude, not territory or power or process.”

“Moral principle is the foundation of law.”

“Philosophers used to speculate about what they called the meaning of life. That is now the job of mystics and comedians.”

Justice for Hedgehogs Quotes

“Absolute confidence or clarity is the privilege of fools and fanatics.”

Justice for Hedgehogs

“Cultures have tried to teach a malign and apparently persuasive lie: that the most important metric of a good life is wealth and the luxury and power it brings. The rich think they live better when they are even richer. In America and many other places they use their wealth politically, to persuade the public to elect or accept leaders who will do that for them. They say that the justice we have imagined is socialism that threatens our freedom.

Not everyone is gullible: many people lead contented lives without wealth. But many others are persuaded; they vote for low taxes to keep the jackpot full in case they too can win it, even though that is a lottery they are almost bound to lose. Nothing better illustrates the tragedy of an unexamined life: there are no winners in this macabre dance of greed and delusion.

No respectable or even intelligible theory of value supposes that making and spending money has any value or importance in itself and almost everything people buy with that money lacks any importance as well. The ridiculous dream of a princely life is kept alive by ethical sleepwalkers. And they in turn keep injustice alive because their self-contempt breeds a politics of contempt for others. Dignity is indivisible.”

Justice for Hedgehogs

“I disagree with you, but I recognize the integrity of your argument. I recognize your moral responsibility.”

Justice for Hedgehogs

“We write a subscript to our mortality. We make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands.”

Justice for Hedgehogs

“Without dignity our lives are only blinks of duration. But if we manage to lead a good life well, we create something more. We write a subscript to our mortality. We make our lives tiny diamonds in the cosmic sands.”

Justice for Hedgehogs

Law's Empire Quotes

“We live in and by the law. It makes us what we are: citizens and employees and doctors and spouses and people who own things. It is sword, shield, and menace: we insist on our wage, or refuse to pay our rent, or are forced to forfeit penalties, or are closed up in jail, all in the name of what our abstract and ethereal sovereign, the law, has decreed. And we argue about what it has decreed, even when the books that are supposed to record its commands and directions are silent; we act then as if law had muttered its doom, too low to be heard distinctly. We are subjects of law's empire, liegemen to its methods and ideals, bound in spirit while we debate what we must therefore do.”

Law's Empire

P*rnography Quotes

“Perhaps MacKinnon should reflect on these suggestions that the censorship issue is not so simple-minded, so transparently gender-against-gender, as she insists. She should stop calling names long enough to ask whether personal sensationalism, hyperbole, and bad arguments are really what the cause of sexual equality now needs.”


“She ends her letter, characteristically, by picturing me and her other critics as indifferent to the suffering of women. But many feminists, including several who wrote or spoke to me about my review, regret her single-minded concentration on lurid sex. They think that though it has predictably attracted much publicity, it tends to stereotype women as victims, and takes attention from still urgent questions of economic, political, and professional equality.”


Sovereign Virtue Quotes

“If we are to be morally and ethically responsible, there can be no turning back once we find, as we have found, that some of the most basic presuppositions of these values are mistaken. Playing God is indeed playing with fire. But that is what we mortals have done since Prometheus, the patron saint of dangerous discoveries. We play with fire and take the consequences, because the alternative is cowardice in the face of the unknown.”

Sovereign Virtue

“The auction proposes what the envy test in fact assumes, that the true measure of the social resources devoted to the life of one person is fixed by asking how important, in fact, that resource is for others. The auction insists that the cost, measured in that way, figures in each person's sense of what is rightly his and in each person's judgment of what life he should lead, given that command of justice.”

Sovereign Virtue

Taking Rights Seriously Quotes

“Discretion, like the hole in a doughnut, does not exist except as an area left open by a surrounding belt of restriction. It is therefore a relative concept. It always makes sense to ask, 'Discretion under which standards?' or 'Discretion as to which authority?'”

Taking Rights Seriously

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“This readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities. We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs—whatever—just so we can be sure that we are doing something. We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game's outcome.”

More quotes by Slavoj Žižek

“What is shocking and wrong is not Lord Devlin's idea that the community's morality counts, but his idea of what counts as the community's morality.”

Taking Rights Seriously

The Philosophy of Law Quotes

“Interpret the new situation in the best light.”

The Philosophy of Law