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Book Chapter

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Oxford University Press, Incorporated




Dworkin argues that commitment to interpretive fidelity requires that we recognize that the Constitution embodies abstract moral principles rather than laying down a particular historical conception, and that interpreting those principles requires fresh judgments of political theory about how they are best understood. This interpretive strategy — Dworkin's ‘moral reading’ of the Constitution — stands in opposition to the narrow originalists' claim that interpretive fidelity requires following the rules laid down by the framers of the Constitution. Some theorists have responded to the originalists by attempting to carve out an intermediate theory between narrow originalism and the moral reading. Dworkin argues that the search for such an intermediate theory is pointless. This chapter evaluates Dworkin's analysis of the intermediate strategy, and supplements his analysis by putting forth a novel reason why constitutional theorists persist in searching for an intermediate theory. It concludes that the intermediate strategy fails because it fundamentally misconceives fidelity.

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