Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Law at New York University (NYU), a law intellectual who (some say tentatively) traced his father’s origins to Lithuania, and who established himself as one of the nation’s foremost legal philosophers, passed away on February 14, 2013.
Dworkin was the second most-cited legal scholar of his era.
His main contribution to modern-day legal philosophy was to challenge the formerly prevailing legal theories of legal positivism (e.g H.L.A. Hart) and legal utilitarianism (e.g. Judge Learned Hand) and to set against these constructs a more timeless model — and one more difficult to apply — of “abstract morality” as a guiding force, symbiotically tied to “The Law”.
As an example of his facility to examine legal theories and issues at their very core, when confronted with dogmatic “originalist” Constitutional doctrine, he asked the penultimate precedential question of whether the nation’s Founders “originally” intended the U.S. Constitution to be interpreted in that way.
There are many obituaries published online:
- Cass R. Sunstein, Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University, at Bloomberg News in
The Most Important Legal Philosopher of Our Time
- Adam Liptak at the New York Times in
Ronald Dworkin, Scholar of the Law, Is Dead at 81
- The Guardian in
Ronald Dworkin: a modern-day Mill
- Godfrey Hodgson at The Guardian in
Ronald Dworkin obituary
- The Telegraph in
Professor Ronald Dworkin, Law Obituaries
- Edward Luce at the Financial Times in
Ronald Dworkin, thinker who challenged judges
- Matt Schudel at the Washington Post in
Ronald Dworkin, influential legal theorist who argued morality’s tie to law, dies at 81