Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate

By Ronald Dworkin | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

I SAID THAT I wanted to start an argument, and I’ve done my best. I hope that whether you belong to the red nation or the blue, you have found something in what I’ve said to argue about and not only to cheer or hate. I set out, in the beginning, two basic principles of human dignity that I can now restate with certain refinements I added later. These principles hold, first, that each human life is intrinsically and equally valuable and, second, that each person has an inalienable personal responsibility for identifying and realizing value in his or her own life. I argued that almost all Americans—and almost all citizens of other nations with similar political cultures—can embrace these two principles, indeed that they could not consistently reject either without abandoning ethical or religious commitments they cherish. I claimed that these principles can serve as common ground on which Americans who are now very deeply divided about politics can construct what we now, to our shame, lack: a real political argument.

Abstract principles are useless without concrete illustrations; I tried to defend my claims by showing how these two principles bear on four issues of particularly heated political controversy

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Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Common Ground 1
  • Chapter 2 - Terrorism and Human Rights 24
  • Chapter 3 - Religion and Dignity 52
  • Chapter 4 - Taxes and Legitimacy 90
  • Chapter 5 - Is Democracy Possible? 127
  • Epilogue 160
  • Notes 165
  • Index 171
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