Dworkin’s transcendental appeal.
In this essay I give an exposition of Ronald Dworkin’s assessment and critique of the no-right answer thesis in
A Matter of Principle
, while offering some conjectures on thetranscendental nature of Dworkin’s right answer thesis. I will attempt to align Dworkin’s notion of the right answer with Kant’s notion of noumenon; the transcendental spur for the legal endeavor. Subsequently I will brieflyexmaine Dworkin’s ‘legal enterprise’ as akin to Heidegger’s notion of a “sphere of concern”. The concluding analysis will be – that, for the kind of legal objectivity that necessitates the statement “slavery is wrong” he needs to look past the essentiallyrelative
of a ‘legal enterprise’ and assert a uniform transcendental argument unmediated by the legal language, and based on the establishment of narrativeconsistency.
Ronald Dworkin is writing in chapter five of his book
A Matter of Principle
to establishthe “best justification” of the present legal practices.(p143) Charitably he gives a vastamount of air time to ultimately unconvincing arguments. His analysis is generous to positions he finds at best, doubtful and at worst absurd. But given that he wants toconvince the reader that questions can only be answered from ‘inside’ the relevantcontext, he must force immersion upon his audience before we could possibly find hisargument either true or false. Only at that point can a “narrative consistency” be deduced.(p139)
In the course of the chapter Dworkin opposes himself to an unnamed philosopher, whoseconcerns are usually meta-legal and characterized by a belief in the “no-right answer thesis”
Hence the sense of this notion must first be explicated before any defense ismade. The fact that this postulation needs to be explained is in itself a convincingargument against it. If the possibility of no-right answer was as pervasive as Dworkin’scounter argument is concerned to show, there would be very little need of exposition.
A Matter of Principle.
Harvard University Press 1985 (p119-145)
The ‘no right answer’ thesis is one which asserts that the ‘correct’ answer to a legal equation is a myth.The arguments, (as we will see) are many, but usually boil down to a concern with the sheer mass of variables put into play by a legal theorist.