Is the Law like a Comic Book or D&D Game? Dworkin’s “Law as Integrity” | Philosophy Tube

Is the Law like a Comic Book or D&D Game? Dworkin’s “Law as Integrity” | Philosophy Tube

-The philosophy of law is like a galaxy of stars. There are many philosophers in the galaxy, but some are so massive and so full of hot gas that their gravitational pull influences all others. one of these supergiants is Ronald Dworkin. There’s a cool paradigm between how Ronald Dworkin says the law should be applied, like by courts and judges and so on, and how comic book writing and tabletop gaming work. A while ago, PBS Idea Channel did a video on how comic book writing and being the gamemaster in tabletop gaming are kind of similar — if you wanna see it, there’s a link to it in the doobly-doo — and Mike suggested that the two are linked because of their relationship with continuity. If someone is writing a comic book or GMing a tabletop game, then the next step in the story needs to be consistent with what has come before and appropriate right now. Like, if the X-Men have been fighting the Mutant Brotherhood for the last twelve issues, you can’t suddenly make a change and say “Oh, uh… Professor X and Magneto were actually the same person all along,” and if your party has been travelling through an ancient forest for twenty minutes, you can’t suddenly say “Oh, everybody was killed by Daleks,” or, rather, you could do that, but a lot of people would be pissed off and you wouldn’t be a very good comic book writer or GM, but, nevertheless, you could technically do it. Remember that, ’cause it’s gonna be important in a minute. And this is pretty much exactly what Ronald Dworkin says about the law. He said that sometimes judges need to make a decision about how to apply the law in a case, and when they do, their ruling needs to be consistent with the body of law that already exists, like the precedents and the previous cases, and it needs to be appropriate right now. It needs to be fair on its own and it needs to fit the particulars of the case and so on, just like comic books and tabletop GMs. Now, in case you think I’m stretching Dworkin here or misinterpreting what he’s saying, he literally makes almost this very analogy. He says that judges should think of themselves like an author that’s writing a chapter in a novel, where all the previous chapters have been written by different authors. They need to make sure not only that their chapter is good on its own, but also that it is a good addition to the story. I don’t know how he failed to realize that a comic book would make a much better analogy in that situation than a chain novel, but apparently he preferred yachting to comics, so that might explain it. The analogy doesn’t run all the way through, though. Remember earlier on I said that if you’re a comic book writer or a GM, you could technically make up loads of crazy ways to continue the story that don’t fit with the continuity? Well, Dworkin says that when a judge makes a decision, there are actual legal rules constraining what moves they can make. There’s more constraining their decision-making than just the potential disapproval of their audiences. Also, a comic book writer or a tabletop GM could come up with multiple ways of continuing the story, which would all be equally good, whereas Dworkin says that when judges make a decision about the law, there must be only one correct answer. He says that the correct ruling is whatever an ideal judge would deliver. He imagines a fictional judge with infinite time, patience, and access to all legal resources and says whatever that judge would say, that is the one correct answer, and he called his ideal judge “Hercules.” THALIA:
-Honey, you mean HUNKULES! OLLY:
-And the reason there can only be one correct answer is that if Hercules delivered two verdicts, both of which were equally good but incompatible, then the law couldn’t justly coerce anybody. It couldn’t make sense for the law to say “You must do this,” if, by its own admission, it would be perfectly fine if you did not do that. There’s one other point of disanalogy. When comic book writers or tabletop GMs continue the story, they are making something new. They’re being creative, whereas Dworkin says that when a judge applies the law, they are not creating new laws. That’s to do with various technical reasons about what he thinks law is exactly, which we won’t go into. But if you’re writing an essay on Dworkin or anything, just remember, according to him, judges do not make new laws. OK, so there’s this analogy between the way comic books and tabletop GMs work and how law should be applied in Dworkin’s eyes, and that’s cool, but why does Dworkin think that the law should be applied that way? Well, again, it’s to do with what exactly he thinks the law is, and here we need to be a little bit careful, because we’re starting to drift quite close to a supermassive black hole in our galaxy of legal philosophers around which almost all other discussion orbits, and we need to not get sucked into that, so everything I’m about to tell you, take it as controversial and much debated. Dworkin thinks that the law has a point. The concept of law has a purpose built into it, and we cannot use the concept without referencing that purpose, and the purpose of the law, he says, is to portray the law in the best possible light, as a coherent body that treats all citizens equally, speaking with one voice, in order to justifiably coerce them. That, he says, is the point of the law. It is what judges must aim at, and that’s why they need to do this thing that comic book writers and GMs do, focusing on the continuity and how they fit into it, and he called this “law as integrity.” What do you guys think? Is there a useful analogy between the way the law should be applied and the way comic book and tabletop GMs work? Next time, we could either do some ancient philosophy and talk about stoicism, or we could do scientific naturalism and God. So leave me a comment and let me know what you want the next one to be about, and for more philosophical videos every Friday, please subscribe. Yes, I am filming in a different location because I am staying with my girlfriend this week. This episode was sponsored by my top patrons this month, Intimidating Scones, D.J. MacIsaac, Rich Clarke, Emiliano Heyns, and Jeffrey Peckham, so thank you so much to all of you guys who support the show on Patreon. I really, really do appreciate that. Everyone else who donated, all your names are in the description. Last time we asked “What morally should be done if someone is pregnant and wants to keep it and the father doesn’t?,” so let’s see what you guys had to say. James Buchanan made the point that the two-parent family is very much a Western model and it doesn’t fit for all families in all cultures at all times, and, yeah, I think that is a very good point. Christine Overall, the philosopher we were discussing, does have that model as a background cultural assumption. That doesn’t necessarily mean that her arguments don’t work, but I think you have identified some important cultural background stuff there. It’s very fashionable at the moment in philosophy, and arguably very right as well, that philosophers do talk about how our culture implicitly influences the arguments we make, so, yeah, I don’t think she would have to change any of what she said, but that is a very good comment and kudos to you for recognising that. wolfman571, Fred Swann, and Samen pancak, and a whole bunch of other people said that if a gestator, somebody who is pregnant, decides to carry the pregnancy to term, then they are voluntarily assuming solo responsibility for any child that results, like, they could have gotten an abortion, they chose not to, so aren’t they assuming all of that responsibility on themselves? Why should we say that inseminators, the traditionally male parents, have a duty of care towards the offspring? Well, I think there are lots of reasons that someone might choose not to get an abortion. They might choose not to get one for religious reasons or reasons of bodily autonomy or just they might not be able to get one. A lot of people in the comments seem to think that getting an abortion is as easy and pleasant as just taking a stroll down the road, and, guys, it’s really, really not, so I don’t think that just because somebody stays pregnant means that they voluntarily assume all that responsibility solo, and it doesn’t mean that they aren’t either entitled to or potentially the beneficiary of aid from the inseminator. Zach Martinez and Dallas Wood said that if an inseminator is forced to be a parent, against their will, well, then surely that kind of resentful environment isn’t going to be a good one for the offspring to grow up in. Well, yeah, uh, Overall does actually anticipate that, and so did Max Schneider a little bit in the comments. She said that, yeah, OK, that might be true, so child support payments might be one way of getting around that, so inseminators don’t have to spend any time with their offspring if they really, really don’t want to, but, also, I think she could say that just because some inseminators do or would fail to fulfil their moral duties of care or fulfil them in a bad way doesn’t mean that all inseminators don’t still have those moral duties. A lot of people said that if it’s unfair for an inseminator to get a “financial abortion,” then it must be unfair for a gestator to get a regular abortion, because both “impact negatively the welfare of the child,” and the fact that so many people left this comment means that there was a problem with my script. I shouldn’t have pitched the script quite so high because I thought that the reply to that argument would be so obvious that it wasn’t worth actually putting it in the script, because obviously that was a mistake on my part. The reply to that is to say that a financial abortion does affect some person. It does affect the child, even though the decision is taken at a time when the child does not yet exist because it’s a fetus, its effects do affect the child when it does exist, whereas the decision to terminate the pregnancy does not affect any child because it actually prevents the child from existing. so, basically, a lot of people tried to take one of the arguments we discussed and turn it on the philosopher who made it, saying “No, you!,” and, actually, it really, really doesn’t work. Shangori said that a gestator can give up a child for adoption after it’s been born and we don’t morally condemn them for that, and therefore that blows Christine Overall’s argument out of the water. Well, no, I don’t actually think it does quite. What Overall could say is that we can say that some gestators have a moral duty not to give up their child for abortion [adoption], namely, they have that duty in those cases where the decision to do that would negatively and unfairly — the same points she makes about other children — impact the child’s welfare, so I think she could take those points on board fairly easily. Since you’ve watched this far into the video without clicking away, I only assume that you are a keen bean when it comes to philosophy, and therefore this might interest you. As well as all my patrons on Patreon, this episode was sponsored by If you go to, you can get a free 30-day trial of their audiobook service and a free audiobook comes with it. This time I think I’m gonna recommend Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy.” It’s a great primer for, well, lots of Western philosophy and a great introduction to a lot of what a lot of different people thought, so you can get that whole thing completely free, and you can cancel anytime.

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100 thoughts on “Is the Law like a Comic Book or D&D Game? Dworkin’s “Law as Integrity” | Philosophy Tube

  1. I'm super interested in Stoicism, and find natural philosophy and it's relation to god to be a kind of unpleasant rabbit hole. I've spent a lot of time reading and thinking about Taleb's (Black Swan, Antifragile) works and he references Seneca and SToicism nearly constantly and it would amazing to see you dive into it a little bit.

    Also, I really enjoyed this video. Thank you!

  2. I don't like that Dworkin's seems to be saying there can only be one right answer to a legal because it would be bad if it were otherwise. That is wishful thinking. It seems completely possible that there good be 2 or more equally good judgements on an issue. Does Dworkin's have some way to prove there can only be one best judgement? If not his position seems pretty bad.

  3. Please do Stoicism, if you could give a nod to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Zeno and Epictetus that would be great. Keep these up I really enjoy them, and run a college philosophy society which sometimes use your content to begin discussions

  4. Have you published (or do you intend to publish) anything in a philosophical journal? And any thoughts on doing a post-grad? Keep up the good work – thoroughly enjoy the material!

    (Vote for next week: Stoicism)

  5. So Dworkin is saying that a ruling by a judge needs to both be just in its context and maintain continuity with precedent, but what happens when these two criteria contradict each other? For example, lets say that a certain law had not been broken for 200 years but has remained on the books. The punishment for the law, which has never been changed because the government has never seen it to be worth the effort to change a punishment that hasn't had to be used in generations, is now frowned upon by society at large. Legal scholars have written about why the punishment is a breech of fundamental human rights. Should the judge sacrifice keeping in continuity with precedent to maintain the ruling being just in the eyes of the people, or vice versa?

  6. Could you explain why the comic book analogy is better than a novel? Don't they both equally need continuity? What difference does the medium make, exactly?

  7. Substantively I feel that Dworkin's idea of what the law is, is very similar to Hobbes' social contract theory which I personally see as the basis for all laws.

    Also I vote for Stoicism.

  8. Renaming suggestion "Liquid "U"s: the youtube channel"

    haha keep up the great work olly. Always look forward to your vids

  9. Olly speaking low and fast feels really intense. I don't know exactly how, but there's some money to be made there.

    Also, I like the framing in this video. Learning a bit of cinematography eh?

  10. In response to the abortion comments, I think a few definitions were a little unclear in your video. You said that gestaters don't accept full solo responsibility, because their decision to go through with the pregnancy could be influenced by religion or the unavailability of a clinic. To me, this doesn't really count as having a choice or wanting the baby.

    I think most people would agree that the gestater doesn't have full responsibility in these circumstances. I think what people are imagining when you say "the gestater wants the baby" is that they are not influenced by unavailability or the idea that it's morally wrong and they're doing it purely because they want the baby. I know in the real world this is very rare and impractical, but this is philosophy and we can talk about things theoretically.

  11. hey 🙂 Thanks for doing a Philosophy of law video. I'm actually in the middle of my MA thesis on the subject, so I'm affraid to comment….I might not stop 🙂
    Could you explain why you chose Dworkin, though? From older interpretivist and hermeneutics philosophers?

  12. Scientific naturalism and god please. I just began a course in the ethics fo science so it would be nice to know what is meant by scientific naturalism.

  13. I agree with Dworkin but might have called the principle Justice as Consistency As Well As Integrity – I would link the need for consistency with foreseeability: If the public are proven to be wrong in their understanding of the law by way of an altering/amending interpretation by a judge then both the original and new interpretations are put in doubt. It is important that the public understand the law as accurately as possible (given that it's interpreted by intermediaries and advocates) and that it is made as understandable for them as possible (enter Emperor Nero anecdote) to avoid doubt, loopholes and chilling effects. You must know for certain the consequences of your actions before making a rational decision, if the consequences were never made clear then (eg.) you could not be said to be "paying" for your crimes if imprisoned based on inconsistent precedents.
    Scientific naturalism please!
    Stoics are boring (even by definition lulz).

  14. Interesting video about the law but I have to respond to your statement that a real abortion or "a decision to terminate has no effect on an child because it prevents the child (person) from existing" in your discussion about the previous week's video. This statement of yours is incorrect. Given the recent controversy in the USA regarding the sale of the various parts of the unborn by Planned Parenthood it is difficult to understand how someone can still hold to the view that the unborn are not persons or that they're non-existent beings (whatever that is):

    A child is existing at the time of an abortion – this is an undisputed empirical fact. If you want to be like a lawyer, and not a philosopher, and base your pro-choice and anti-life arguments on legal definitions such as "persons" that can be your perogative but it surely doesn't seem to reflect the integrity of an honest and fairly disclosed argument which has been your presentation style prior to this video. I know most philosophers can't be bothered with acquainting themselves with the more disgusting aspects of human lives but on this topic of abortion I think it is entirely needed. Many very bright philosophers still conceive all abortions as happening at the time of conception or just after when the young child is in the zygote stage! This is a myth. Many weeks pass typically before a gestator ever realizes she is pregnant unless she constantly tests herself for pregnancy. In any case, the zygote or embryo is still a developing human being – it is not a starfish, baby dolphin, chimp, or a "blob of tissue", "product of conception", etc… Moreover, the age of the fetus at the time most surgical abortions occur is around 12 weeks. By this age, the fetus has developed a lot – and is recognizable by what we would visually consider to be human. When death comes via a surgical abortion at this stage and later stages it is usually quite violent and bloody. The bloody mess found in the blender like container of the aspirator is not quite as sanitized as the "non-existent person" in your argument. That bloody mess in the aspirator container existed and was "prevented" from **continuing** to exist.

  15. Also, I really appretiate that you are actually being paid and have a sponsor. You are a great mediator of content, specifically of philosophy, and you talk very well, and clearly prepare and study for this topics discussions, which makes you a really god educator, the type we need on the internet. So thank you so much for being who you are and keeping this channel strong!

  16. I see you're still getting pushback in the comments regarding abortion.
    I think your response in this video was extremely disappointing. Not because of your position on the object-level issue, but because you're begging the question and being incredibly dismissive/uncharitable to the opposing view.

    As I wrote last time, when we say "only people can be wronged by killing" we want "person" here to be a moral category, not a mere psychological category. To establish why psychological characteristics could make a moral difference (i.e. why a child can be a proper victim but a fetus cannot), we would have to explain what makes it wrong to kill. Some plausible answers to this question do not depend on present psychological status, e.g. the victim having a future like ours or having future interests. (See Marquis 1989)

    And yet you say "I shouldn't have pitched the script quite so high. I thought that the reply to that argument would be so obvious that it wasn't worth putting in the script" :/

  17. A great video, and one that I actually almost 100% agree with. I know you wanted to avoid the "point" of the law, so I won't go too far into that here, maybe you can do another video about that some time? Anyhow, STOICISM! I love the Stoics…or put more stoically, I have positive emotions towards the Stoics which I acknowledge and allow to guide my Deontological obligations in day-to-day affairs.

  18. So, Laws function as society's voice. Like if everyone felt slavery was not wrong, laws would reflect this. I'm reminded of the Weltgeist. In both the law and weltgeist, we are picturing society as like a single organism.

  19. Videos of scientific naturalism and god (if you're planning on doing like I think you are) are a everywhere on youtube. Youtube does have an active theist and atheist community. Stoicism however that might be interesting.

  20. Stoicism please. Everyone and there dog has done scientific naturalism and God. Yes is will be an interesting video, but stoicism would teach us something new.

  21. 10:30 sorry but preventing the child from existing can be argued as an even higher consequence to the child than lack of child support, thus the argument you were makeing falls due to the fact that it is based entirely on consequence to the child.

  22. In the US, judges do create new laws with their verdict because their judgements alter the interpretation and effect of the law when they set precedence.
    So the analogy holds up with many US law philosophers that like the way things work here.

  23. I would like it if you would do one on Stoicism since I love ancient history and philosophy. I've been watching your channel for a bit now, after becoming a philosophy fan over the past year while studying my major in history and minor in political science, and I just wanted to say thank you for expanding my scope of the world and I also wanted to congratulate you on getting your master's degree a while ago. Keep up the great work, continue educating us in your passion, and all the best to you. Cheers

  24. I think comparing comic books and law is inaccurate and leads to a poorer understanding of either.

    The human grouping functions on a principle of "us" vs. "them", where "us" is how we evolved to identify our legs, eyes, tools, family, friends etc. as opposed to a hostile environment inhabited by hostile organisms, animals, humans and what have you; all lumped together as "them".

    That is the purpose of the knowledge, to identify "them" so we may punish, ostracize, control, educate, remove, eradicate or otherwise deal with "them". It ignores "us" because we instinctively believe "us" won't act contrary to "us"'s benefit. This preserves our sense of community and the limitations on how Law may evolve is designed specifically to always preserve this intent.

    Comic books employ imaginary laws as entertainment so plot twists, surprise endings and a plethora of other devices are not similarly constrained. Some degree of consistency is required for immersion into the story but that's where the similarity ends.

  25. Problem with Dworkin's theory is that it makes no sense outside of common law system :/ I would really like to hear your opinion on the postivist/natural law debate 🙂

  26. The law is an adroit mixture of customs that are beneficial to society, and could be followed even if no law existed, and others that are of advantage to a ruling minority, but harmful to the masses of men, and can be enforced on them only by terror.
    ~Peter Kropotkin

  27. Wouldn't a more precise analogy be mathematics? Nothing can contradict any previous part, because then the whole system would collapse, and no one creates anything new. All of mathematics already exists (it follows from the axioms), and we (humans) are merely "discovering" it. (Note that there is debate about this. Some people believe mathematics is actually created.)

  28. I think laws should be more flexible. A lot of laws are old and irrelevant or outdated. If we stay consistent with how things were done in the past then the law has failed, because times have changed, but the law hasn't. If we keep the comic book analogy then we need to "reboot" the law every now and then just like comics are rebooted. You reboot a comic to make an old character work in the present day, and you "reboot" a law so that it works in the present day.

  29. Continuity in comic books might also help explain why the law struggles to deal with novel concepts.

    A comic book universe might struggle to add a new character to the overall continuity in a way that makes sense. A new character would need to have existed without any of the current characters knowing, which is problematic for the head of a large spy agency, the World's Greatest Detective, or someone with the ability to hear voices all around the world. The presence of a new character must fit within the existing universe without disrupting the continuity too much, or the internal logic falls apart.

    We can see the analogy in issues like copyright laws. Lawrence Lessig (I think) talked about the fact that copyright law had no concept of a linked item as part of a website, meaning the law struggles to deal with new technologies or behaviors quickly.

  30. Scientific naturalism and god!
    Why? Because nobody on youtube makes breakdown hard nose philosophical arguments on the subject.

  31. Regarding your answer about the last video: Sorry but no, that isn't an obvious answer at all. You are laying out the argument that the financial abortion will affect a future person while a physical will not. But this is still an argument that bestows an ethical duty on a real person on the behalf of a not yet excising person. As long as the gestator has the possibility to terminate the child hasn't a definite existence.

    Granted the fetus have an exponentially bigger chance of existence than say, a theoretical specific fertilized egg some time in the future, but the line must be drawn at the point between possible and definite. There are no real logical difference between a unviable unborn fetus and a theoretical future fertilization that may become a human.

    If you follow the logic you presented it will reach a point where all humans have a ethical duty to all conceivable possibilities of another future human. This is of course an impossible stance since some of the future possibilities of humans cancel out each other.

  32. I find this episode rather Euro centric. It focuses on Common Law as the de facto truest and best form of law without addressing Civil Law or Sharia Law. Which are popular in other parts of the world.

  33. You recommend Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy as a primer in philosophy, right? LessWrong says the book is polemical and suggests the Oxford textbook instead, while Kenny's New History of Western Philosophy they say, is too deep for the beginner, another blog by a scientist recommends Flew's book. Well, less wrong is polemical so, go figure… And anyhow, a book written for general readers is going to be a primer than a textbook obviously. And flew's book is a textbook renowned for not dumbing down…

  34. In reply to You replying to my comment, in the previous video; saying i should come here to watch the reply section: (jezus that was long winded.)
    On the topic of the Gestator not having sole responsibility: I have to admit this is a topic that tilts me a bit, and I get the feeling this is something that could spur on a far too long debate. I do have to admit you raise one if not more fair points. But I also feel this is a topic that deserves alot more attention quickly; before the problems of the United States potentially become ours ('Alimony abuse' and such.).
    I don't just see it as a fun little philosophical topic, I see it as a debate that should be held so that the Lawmakers can make sure that no (more) harm is done.

    On a side note: I really want to tell you how much I love your channel, I might not agree with it you 100% of the time (obviously) but that's part of the fun. 🙂
    Love what you're doing, keep it up man!

  35. Isn't this a little like the following:
    Star Wars:
    The Author really wanted to make Annakin become the evil Darth Vader, but if you ask me, he failed to deliver a cohesive and believable explanation.
    He tried, sure, but to me he just barely scratched what should has been required to turn the GOOD Annaking into the EVIL Darth Vader.
    So in my eyes, he violated all, that has been served prior to that.
    Like all the good acts of annakin, the way we got to know him.

    not native… Now i feel stupid 🙁

  36. The idea of the "ideal judge" reminds me of an interesting argument for moral realism called the Ideal Observer Theory.
    It basically asks you to imagine a similar being, with infinite time, patience and access to all necessary information (as opposed to just 'legal resources'). The argument goes that such a being would know what the best answer to any moral dilemma is, given their vast knowledge, and, thus, their ruling would represent the one "correct" answer.

  37. This video was so useful- 3rd year LLB law student here trying to understand 'The Philosophy of Law' and the comic book analogy helped everything click in my head…

  38. That's all well and good to imagine Judge Hercules but in practice every appellate Judge is a political actor. They don't like to think of themselves that way but they are quite beholden to political reality as anyone else. That is how we've got notorious bad calls like the Dred Scott decision, Buck v. Bell, Plessy v. Ferguson or the Bush v. Gore decision. All reflected the political pressures and realities of their times.

  39. Why should the law apply equally to everyone? Of course I think it should, but this seems like an implicit assumption of the argument. And I think it fails there.

    Scientific naturalism and God.

  40. I find that giving precedent enough value to where it affects a judges decisions on the basis of continuity may be the most asinine assertion i've heard. What if the first interpretation of the law was both morally wrong and inconsistent? Would one then have to continue along the same path with this inconsistent law? Even if this is a marginal case, which I doubt, the fact that it exists means that the comic book / author analogy should never be applied to judges. If it were, then we'd be assuming that literally every judge was hercules. As this is obviously not the case (*cough* plessy v ferguson), we can't let past judges have that kind of power.

  41. well if a man doesn't want to have the child they could've taken steps not to have them before having sex
    cause it's easier for a man to prevent having kids than a woman
    you made the kid too accept the consequences of your actions sorry but it's a fact

  42. Some tabletop games (like Apocalypse World and its offspring) do actually require the GM to make certain “moves” at certain times. Practically it doesn’t make much difference and the moves work like guidelines, but technically they are hard rules, implying the game designers have some idea of a “perfect GM” in mind, if not a perfect call for every situation.

  43. Incredible video. I am a law student and it helped me very much to understand the core ideas of what Dwarkin believe the law is!

  44. The idea of one single correct answer is iffy to me. I don't think that's the case at all. The coercion of law doesn't come from it – even merely ideally – being the single best way to structure society. It's the legitimacy debate all over again. Ultimately, the power of law is something the people grant society. They may be well aware that parts of the law are far from ideal, either to them personally, or to some abstract concept they hold to be valuable. But most of the time they will comply with it anyway. In part because there might be repercussions otherwise, in part because it's, in a sense, "the easy thing to do" (at least most laws aren't gonna be particularly hard to follow), in part because much of it is gonna happen to align with their ideas of morality and/or common-sense, and in part because actually effectively revolting against any law perceived as unjust is going to take at least moderately large scale civil disobedience which only works if a sufficient number of people is sufficiently sure that a sufficient number of people thinks sufficiently similar to them to make this plausibly effective. It also takes a certain activist mind to kickstart a movement like that. Most people are gonna be fine with swimming with the flow, even if they see some injustice. People generally don't like standing out.
    But anyway, there can be several equally good solutions to problems, and some decisions are gonna depend on personal ideals and philosophies. And there are some problems that simply have no clearly correct answer. Even if you were to rely on perfect, complete information and infinite time and energy (neither of which could ever be counted on, obviously), the answer to some questions is gonna end up being "undecidable" rather than "true" or "false". What would a perfect judge do in a situation like that? Say, you have two candidate laws that The Ideal Judge has narrowed down the possibilities to. Say the laws are entirely incompatible. Nor is there a middle ground that somehow picks parts of one or the other. One of these two laws are IT. The ultimate winner.
    But what if this judge finds that the superiority of one over the other is undecidable? Which one should the judge pick?

  45. this is so dope. I GM a LOT, and I the idea of the arbitration and coercive power of the GM and the game rules is pretty well aligned to law. If a GM is a Judge, are the game designers the legislature?

  46. Still not on board with the 'Killing a child early enough isn't morally equivalent to killing it later' position.

    I support abortion rights from a bodily autonomy perspective, so my practical position is the same, but that doesn't alleviate my concerns.

  47. Ideally, the law should work like science works, in a Kuhnian sort of model: it should try as best as it can to give good results within the paradigm established by previous results, but when it cannot give a good result to a new case in a way consistent with that previous paradigm, it should carve out special exceptions (that will then be consistently applied to similar cases in the future), because it's more important to get the results correct than it is to be consistent with past results; and if too many exceptions keep piling up, then it may be time to scrap the whole paradigm that isn't working and switch to a different one. When you have to do that, you may have to revisit a lot of past results to see how well they really hold up under the new paradigm, which is a lot of work and might take a lot of time, but that's what need to be done if you actually care more about the law really being just, rather than (as Dworkin apparently does) presenting a possibly-false public image of the law being and always having been completely just.

  48. So this is an old video by this point but I just really wanted to comment that Dworkin's 'One Right Answer' thesis seems like one of the most questionable things about all this to me, at least if one is speaking in terms of law as constructed by people. The law as it exists in practice is a construct created by humans, and it is a rather complicated construct at that. It might well be a desirable property for this construct to have "one right answer" in any given scenario, but that's just as much a fantasy as complex software with zero bugs. Even with a perfect ideal judge, human factors in the construction of the law means that contradictions and ambiguities are near certain to exist. Now… if you're talking about a particular idealized notion of law, not as constructed by people fair enough, but I think one could just as easily state that there is some some notion of a "Perfect Comic Book Author" for whom there is only one right path forward in writing a story from any given state.

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