Justice As Integrity: Tolerance and the Moral Momentum of Law


Strives to show why morality and, in particular, tolerance are each part of the idea of law.
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Strives to show why morality and, in particular, tolerance are each part of the idea of law.
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Editorial Reviews

Law and Politics Book Review
In what can be fairly described as an extended conversation with Ronald Dworkin, Fagelson seeks "to offer an alternative way to think about the moral content of legal interpretation and the role of morality in understanding our legal rights," and to "locate and describe the moral foundations of law in America" (p.2). Fagelson, a self-described moral realist, admires Dworkin. He accepts Dworkin's view of the task of legal theory as well as his conception of "law as integrity." He shares what he calls Dworkin's "dream" that judges in the United States never create law, but always "discover it, if not in the written law, then in society's latent principles and values that help form the fundamental law" (p.36) (Actually, Dworkin calls the distinction between finding and inventing law a "false dichotomy" (1986, 225-228), but perhaps Fagelson's characterization is apt nevertheless). Dworkin sets the right agenda by tying law and rights to more basic and abstract principles of justice and political morality (pp.50, 87). Where Dworkin goes wrong, Fagelson argues, is in his refusal to apply his notion of "constructive interpretation" to "justice" as well as to "law"-hence Fagelson's title, "Justice As Integrity.".
—Michael Paris
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791467640
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Series: SUNY Series in American Constitutionalism
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Fagelson is Associate Professor of Law and Society at American University.

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Table of Contents

1. Morality, Tolerance, and Law

2. The Wages of Skepticism

3. Integrity and Obligation

4. Justice as Integrity

5. Liberal Perfectionism and Tolerance in American Law

6. Tolerance and the Virtue of Law


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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2007

    Challenging to read but worth the effort

    This book really dismantles the notion of strict constructionism that is bandied about so blithely by politicians without much meaning. Fagelson sets out to show why tolerance, and hence, morality has to be part of any conception of law. So all interpretation must incorporate this morality to be a true interpretation. This is a tough argument to make given the number of seriously evil legal systems that have existed. He also argues that the American system is actually rooted in a liberal notion of tolerance. He is not unaware of all the sexism, racism etc in our history but he argues that it is this moral basis that has created the legal momentum to eliminate them, as opposed to embracing them as a different moral conception of law might do. Anyone who is a serious student of moral issues in law and politics should read this book.

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