Philosophical Topics

Volume 44, Issue 1, Spring 2016

Essays on the Philosophy of Frederick Stoutland

Lisa Van Alstyne
Pages 265-286

Theory, Interpretation, and Law
Some Worries about Dworkin’s Account of Their Relation

This paper explores Ronald Dworkin’s influential theory of constructive interpretation. It points out that this theory admits of two readings, which I call the “undemanding” and the “demanding” conceptions of constructive interpretation respectively. As I argue, Dworkin’s own presentation of the theory equivocates between these two conceptions, the former of which is utterly unproblematic, but the latter of which incorporates certain philosophical prejudices as to what it must mean for a practice to be purposive.