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

1988 Words Nov 23rd, 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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As such, it is possible that numerous conflicting principles may exist in the one scenario. Dworkin even goes further by introducing the concept of policy defining a policy as ‘that kind of standard that sets out a goal to be reached, generally an improvement in some economic, political, or social feature of the community’.

The famous US decision of Riggs v Palmer serves to illustrate a considerable strength in Dworkin’s argument concerning rules and principles. The New York court had to decide a case to determine whether a grandson who poisoned his grandfather to obtain his inheritance was in fact able to collect such an inheritance. At the time, there existed no statute or law that invalidated his claim as a beneficiary due to his involvement in the murder. Furthermore, the applicable legal rule seemed to be that legacies contained in legally valid testamentary dispositions are to be guaranteed by law in accordance with the wishes of the testator. According to Hart, the court should, in this situation, be decided upon pre-existing law. Yet despite this, the court majority found that the grandson could not inherit, instead appealing to moral reasoning by citing the principle that no one should be able to profit from ones crimes. A similar decision based on principle was handed down 70 years later in the case of Henningsen v Bloomfield Motors Inc. As a result of these cases, Dworkin is able

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