“What Are the Major Strengths and Weakness of Dworkin’s Theory of Law as Compared to a Positivist or Natural Law Perspective?” Discuss.

1993 Words Nov 26th, 2012 8 Pages
“What are the major strengths and weakness of Dworkin’s theory of law as compared to a positivist or natural law perspective?” Discuss.

Arguably one of the most influential legal theorists of the 20th century, Ronald Dworkin’s dealings with law’s interpretation and integrity has lead to inevitable contradictions with that of positivist ideology, with his work essentially revitalising a method of thinking that had long been considered dead and buried. Perhaps most notoriously, Dworkin combated the positivist theory of his former teacher and predecessor as Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University, H.L.A. Hart. When comparing the two, it is apparent that Dworkin and Hart disagree on a plethora of issues, however there exist several
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While not binding, these principles are sufficient enough so as to modify statutes. He highlighted that even the dissenting judge in Riggs did so based on the principle “one should not be punished beyond the ways specified in the statute”. Such cases illustrate Dworkin’s idea that when deciding cases, judges need to broaden their search so as to encompass more than just the rules so as to find the correct answer. These principles serve as being part of the community’s moral and political culture which is constantly evolving, existing independently from the enacting legal institutions.

Despite Dworkin’s popular ideas and seeming victories in cases such as Riggs, there exists a wide range of criticism focused on revealing the weaknesses of his theory. Although it seems Hart never responded to Dworkin’s criticisms directly, there have been numerous positivist responses focusing on a wide range of issues. In most cases, these responses seem to agree with Dworkin in part, but not in its entirety. For example, some positivists accepted Dworkin’s characterization of legal positivism but rejected his explanation as to why legal principles are inherent within the law, while others could conceptualise Dworkin’s explanation for the legality of principles, but rejected his characterization of legal positivism. Most legal positivists however have taken the later approach and sought to effectively deflect Dworkin’s critique by saying his classification of positivism was

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