ARTICLE: Pildes on Dworkin's Theory of Rights Skip over navigation
LexisNexis® Browse Law Reviews and Treatises
Skip over navigation
Sign in with your® ID to access the full text of this article.
Order the full text of this article if you do not have a® ID.
US $22.00 (+ tax)

Copyright (c) 2000 The University of Chicago
The Journal of Legal Studies

ARTICLE: Pildes on Dworkin's Theory of Rights

January, 2000

29 J. Legal Stud. 301


Jeremy Waldron *


A RECENT article in the Journal of Legal Studies, by Richard Pildes, entitled "Why Rights Are Not Trumps," 1 is marred by a serious misrepresentation of Ronald Dworkin's account of individual rights. The aim of this note is to set the record straight and to encourage readers to treat the phrase "rights as trumps" more carefully, paying more attention to the argument that is used to support the "trumping" idea.

Pildes argues in his article that rights are better understood as (a) constraints on the kinds of reasons that government may legitimately act upon, than as (b) simple protections for certain individual interests against the demands of the common good. He labels view b the "rights as trumps" conception. The image of "rights as trumps" is familiar from the work of Ronald Dworkin. 2 And, indeed, Pildes attributes conception b to Dworkin and criticizes Dworkin for neglecting conception a. 3

But there is a problem for Pildes's critique. Even though Dworkin uses the term trumps to describe rights, he explicitly rejects view b. In fact, the account of rights that Dworkin provides in Taking Rights Seriously and elsewhere is almost exactly the view that Pildes chides him and his followers for not taking. It is something like view a--namely, the view that the function of rights is to preclude governmental actions motivated by reasons that denigrate or express contempt for certain members or sections of ...
If you are interested in obtaining a® ID and Password, please contact us at 1-(800)-227-4908 or visit us at
Search Documents
eg., Environmental Insurance Coverage Under the Comprehensive General Liability Policy

Lexis® Web - The only search engine that delivers free web content specifically from legal sites validated by LexisNexis® attorney editors and includes tools for faster research and more relevant results.

LexisNexis Store
Research Now - Go to
Connect the Dots - Free 1 hour webcast
Share. Network. Discover. - Go to LexisNexis Communities