Taking Rights Seriously

by Ronald Dworkin

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Ronald Dworkin's Taking Rights Seriously is a robust set of essays which collectively promote a liberal theory of the law. Against the philosophical doctrine of utilitarianism, Dworkin argues that individuals have rights against the state in the absence of those rights being explicitly stated anywhere in a constitution.

While this implication is somewhat shrouded in his lengthy tome, Dworkin contends that, though law is interpretation, there is one right decision. To ensure that the legal system allows this correct decision to surface, Dworkin argues that hard cases (i.e., those with unclear or inapplicable legal precedent) should be decided on the grounds of moral political principles.

Law is, necessarily, interpretation, and Dworkin notes that disagreements in interpretations of the law are rampant. Dworkin seeks truth in interpretation and, in so doing, argues that individuals should have basic rights that are not expressly stated in the law.

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