The Roots of the Arab Spring   /   Fall 2011   /    Book Reviews

Ronald Dworkin’s Justice for Hedgehogs

Colin Bird

In this bold and intricate book, Ronald Dworkin argues that if justice, ethics, and morality are to be correctly understood at all, they must be understood as forming a unified, inte- grated whole. Hence Dworkin’s allusion  (via  Isaiah  Berlin) to  A r ch ilo chu s’s  h edge ho g (presumably familiar to readers of  this  journal).  In  contrast to the cunning fox, who, in knowing many things, is apt to miss the wood for the trees, the hedgehog knows “one big thing.” By emulating the hedgehog, Dworkin sees himself as swim- ming against a fashionable tide of skepticism about evalua- tive judgment that foxes—of various academic species—have propagated. Much like Plato’s campaign against the sophists, this book has the immodest aim of vindicating Socrates’s insistence on the essential unity of virtue against skeptics who see in ethical discourse only irreconcilable differences and endless contestation.

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