Ronald Dworkin


Biography of Ronald Dworkin

Ronald Myles Dworkin (December 11, 1931 - February 14, 2013) was an American philosopher and scholar of constitutional law. He was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University and Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London, and had taught previously at Yale Law School and the University of Oxford. An influential contributor to both philosophy of law and political philosophy, Dworkin received the 2007 Holberg International Memorial Prize in the Humanities for "his pioneering scholarly work" of "worldwide impact." According to a survey in The Journal of Legal Studies, Dworkin was the second most-cited American legal scholar of the twentieth century.

His theory of law as integrity, in which judges interpret the law in terms of consistent and communal moral principles, especially justice and fairness, is among the most influential contemporary theories about the nature of law. Dworkin advocated a "moral reading" of the United States Constitution, and an interpretivist approach to law and morality. He was a frequent commentator on contemporary political and legal issues, particularly those concerning the Supreme Court of the United States, often in the pages of The New York Review of Books.

Dworkin was born in 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island, United States, the son of Madeline (Talamo) and David Dworkin. He studied at Harvard University and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and a student of Sir Rupert Cross. After completing his final year's exams at Oxford, the examiners were so impressed with his script that the Chair of Jurisprudence (then H. L. A. Hart) was summoned to read it. Dworkin then attended Harvard Law School and subsequently clerked for Judge Learned Hand of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Hand would later call Dworkin the finest clerk he ever employed, and Dworkin would recall Judge Hand as an enormously influential mentor. After working at Sullivan & Cromwell, a prominent law firm in New York City, Dworkin became a Professor of Law at Yale University, where he became the holder of the Wesley N. Hohfeld Chair of Jurisprudence.

In 1969, Dworkin was appointed to the Chair of Jurisprudence at Oxford, a position in which he succeeded H. L. A. Hart, and elected Fellow of University College, Oxford. After retiring from Oxford, Dworkin became the Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London, where he subsequently became the Bentham Professor of Jurisprudence. He was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and professor of Philosophy at New York University (NYU), where he taught since the late 1970s. He co-taught a colloquium in legal, political, and social philosophy with Thomas Nagel. Dworkin had regularly contributed, for several decades, to The New York Review of Books. He delivered the Oliver Wendell Holmes Lecture at Harvard, the Storrs Lectures at Yale, the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Stanford, and the Scribner Lectures at Princeton. In June 2011, he joined the professoriate of New College of the Humanities, a private college in London. Dworkin died of leukemia in London on February 14, 2013 at age 81.

[Report Error]