Dworkin's Incomplete Interpretation of Democracy

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This essay mounts an immanent critique of Dworkin’s defense of judicial review. Taking Dworkin’s methodology of constructive interpretation as my starting point, I argue that when analyzing the role that political institutions play in democracy, Dworkin fails to take his own method far enough. In particular, he limits his constructive interpretation of democracy to the practice of voting, overlooking the distinctive democratic values implicit within the institutions and practices of legislation by representative assembly. Ironically, given his well-known critique of majoritarian democracy, this failure leads Dworkin to adopt majoritarianism as a starting point when assessing particular institutions. A more thoroughgoing interpretation of democratic practices would identify certain nonmajoritarian virtues of legislatures, making the case for judicial review less clear-cut than Dworkin’s incomplete interpretation suggests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-181
Number of pages27
JournalWashington University Jurisprudence Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Ronald Dworkin, judicial review, nonmajoritarian, participatory values


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