Philosophy of Law 1.) Dworkin used the example of Riggs v. Palmer to demonstrate the differences between rules and principles. Discuss these differences and how they were on display in Riggs v. Palmer. Dworkin has tried to identify the criteria on which laws and court decisions are based…
In this context, principles can be interpreted differently, under the influence of the personal perceptions of the individual involved, while no such option is available in the case of rules (Raitio 294). The differentiation between rules and principles is made clear when referring to their use by judges. Indeed, in such case, as Dworkin states, rules apply ‘in all or nothing fashion’ (Culver 144), meaning that a rule can either be applied in a specific case or not, there is no intermediate status (Culver 144). On the contrary, principles, even if judges use them, do not oblige the judge involved to take a specific decision. For this reason, Dworkin notes that principles only ‘contribute in judges’ decision’ (Culver 144); principles cannot define the content of a court decision just to influence the reasoning of the judge in regard to the case involved (Culver 144); also, the judge decides whether he will use a principle, and at what level, when developing a decision. Peczenik (2009) refers to another differentiation of rules and principles, as described by Dworkin. Rules and principles are based on different criteria of validity. ...
This means that principles cannot introduce ideas or set obligations, which are differentiated to the beliefs of individuals, at an average level, in regard to law and ethics. Also, principles cannot introduce ideas, which are in opposition with the statutes or the case law, as developed in the country involved (Peczenik 246). In legal rules, the existence of the above conditions is not examined. It is sufficient for a legal rule to have been verified by a competent institution, as explained above, in order to be considered as valid. The above terms of differentiation between rules and principles have been introduced by Dworkin and are valuable for understanding the conditions under which rules and principles are used in practice. The potential use of the view of Dworkin on rules and principles for explaining the decision of the court in the case Riggs v Palmer is examined in the study of Siltala (2000). According to the above researcher, the case Riggs v Palmer sets a critical dilemma: when, in the context of a case, a conflict is developed between a rule and a principle, which should be the decision of judge? He should uphold the rule or use the principle for developing a decision in regard to the specific case? In such cases, Dworkin ‘used to redefine the normative conflict’ (Siltala 46); in this way, ‘the weight of the two principles’ (Siltala 46) should be taken into consideration for deciding which of these principles should be preferred. The differences between legal rules and principles, as Dworkin has highlighted these differences, are clear in the case of Riggs v Palmer (1889). More specifically: in the above case, the following dilemma appears: ...
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