Is Democracy Possible Here?: Principles for a New Political Debate

Ronald Dworkin, Author . Princeton $19.95 (177p) ISBN 978-0-691-12653-1

Rarely has partisan rhetoric been more divisive or political bickering more infantile than over the last few election cycles. In this short book, Dworkin, a professor of law and philosophy at New York University and Oxford University, argues that liberals and conservatives must realize that each camp is working for the same goal of a better nation. Dworkin (Law's Empire ) builds this work on the assertion that most Americans accept certain fundamental principles, the most important of which are the beliefs that "each human life has a special kind of objective value" and "each person has a special responsibility for realizing the success of his own life." From these conventionally conservative maxims, Dworkin constructs an unmistakably liberal legal framework, coming down in favor of due process for terror suspects, same-sex marriage, abortion rights and progressive taxation and social welfare policies. Written in simple and sometimes repetitive language, some of the book's sections are more compelling than others. The too-brief passage on abortion, for instance, is unlikely to make any converts, and the final chapter, on tax-and-spend policies, may strike some as naïve. Though his claim that democracy is imperiled by a dearth of rational public debate is certainly overblown, Dworkin's book deserves careful consideration and response. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/19/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
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