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Peer-Review Record

Ronald Dworkin: Seeking Truth and Justice through Responsibility

Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Original submission received: 6 March 2023 / Revised: 17 April 2023 / Accepted: 21 April 2023 / Published: 28 April 2023

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The author reconstructs Dworkins concept of “truth” as a tool to interpret especially moral judgements.

“Truth” is usually no accepted concept especially in the German theory of interpreting moral judgements. Even Dworkin is a very well known author, in my impression his thougths are not often discussed in the European legal theory. He has a very “american” approach and that makes the text interesting for European authors.

The text has the mere aim to explain Dworkins thinking. What I miss a bit, is a critical discussion of Dworkins ideas. Also there is almost no comparison to other similar or critical concepts. But this would make this another text. As an introduction to Dworkin I find this an interesting and important text.

The conclusions consistent with the evidence and arguments presented.

The references are appropriate.

The quotation at the end is also highlighted in the paper of Mallmann.

Author Response

Please see the detailed replies in the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

This is a descriptive article summarising Dworkin’s theory of objective truth in morality and law through interpretation. With the exception of a few hiccups that I flag below, the article does a good job giving an overview of Dworkin’s theory. However, it should be noted that the article does not make an original contribution to the literature. It simply presents a description of Dworkin’s views, drawing primarily (but not exclusively) on Justice for Hedgehogs. If the descriptive nature of the piece is compatible with the publication goals of the editors, then it is certainly a good enough piece that can be published with minor revisions.


The hiccups can be divided into small points requiring revision to make the piece publishable (A), and less important typos and similar issues which I picked up along the way (B).




-       P 1: neither the abstract nor the introduction make clear what the focus and purpose of the article are. Even if the aims are just descriptive, this should be made clear, as should the focus and the structure of the piece (for instance, a short roadmap at the end of the introduction would be essential).

-       P 3 n 102: the author says that “neither internal nor external scepticism can be suitable” for moral judgment. This contradicts what Dworkin himself says about (certain types of) internal scepticism being useful (see eg p 180 of Justice for Hedgehogs: “Any genuine moral skepticism must be an internal skepticism.”), and it seems to contradict what the author themselves go on to cite on p 4 n 150 (“You need an internally sceptical argument…”). I would recommend rectifying this or adding a clarification in the event that the author has something else in mind here.

-       P 5 n 231: the author talks of Rawls’s “deliberative equilibrium”. What they have in mind surely is Rawls’s “reflective equilibrium”.

-       P 6 n 270: the author talks of “the Constitution”. Dworkin spoke primarily if not exclusively of the US Constitution. The author should address whether Dworkin’s theory applies only the US Constitution, or to constitutions more generally.


-       P 6 n 276: the author says that “principles … do not lead to either-or decisions”. This is misleading. It is true that principles are not themselves of an either-or nature, but the application of a principle can lead to an either-or decision. For instance, the principle that no one should benefit from their own wrongdoing can certainly lead to the “either-or” decision that person x cannot inherit from a family relative x has killed.

-       P 8 n 386: the author could usefully situate Dworkin’s view of truth as a “historical” process within the broader literature. Specifically, a connection should be made to hermeneutics. The edited volume Gadamer and Law by Francis J Mootz III would provide a helpful starting point, as it contains contributions on Dworkin’s hermeneutics.




-       P 1 n 1, Abstract: there is a stray hyphen in “Moral judge-ments”.

-       P 1 n 9-10: the author says that Dworkin “dispenses with a definition of truth” only to go on to say that he understands “the true as a matter of interpretation”. Surely, that is a kind of definition, too. The author may want to consider rephrasing this sentence. 

-       P 3 n 101: the author says that “Dworkin rejects scientific and metaphysical reasoning”. While the context may make it clear to some readers that the author meant to say "in the context of moral truths”, I would recommend making this explicit to avoid implying that Dworkin was opposed to scientific and metaphysical reasoning tout court (which he was not).

-       P 3 n 114-115: the author invokes the fact that “the prohibition of torture is one of the few mandatory provisions of international law” to argue that it is difficult to imagine that Dworkin would ever put forward an argument that violence could be justified under any circumstances. While I can follow the author’s point, I was surprised why they did not invoke what appears to be a much more straightforward reason in the context of this discussion: namely, Dworkin’s rejection of utilitarianism and his endorsement of a deontological account focused on the dignity and equal value of persons.

-       P 3 n 122: “underlaying” should probably read “underlying”.

-       P 3 n 123: “Dworkin represents an objective truth”. Consider rephrasing; this makes it sound as though Dworkin himself represents an objective truth, which is surely not what the author has in mind here.

-       P 3 n 130: “…cannot be independent.” Here, it could be made clearer what exactly the respective view cannot be independent of.

-       P 3 n 145: “demanded responsibility”. Does the author mean to say “demanding responsibility”?

-       P 5 n 221: “the latter” refers to “situation” here. Should be replaced with “the judge”.

-       P 6 n 295: the author may want to consider using “concept” instead of “construct” here, considering that their aim is exactly to contrast abstract concepts from constructed truths.

Author Response

Please see the detailed replies in the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

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