Ronald Dworkin at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2008.
Ronald Myles Dworkin
December 11, 1931
|Died||February 14, 2013 81) (aged|
|Alma mater|| Harvard College |
Magdalen College, Oxford
Harvard Law School
|Jurisprudence, political philosophy|
|Law as integrity, fit and justification in law, right answer thesis, legal interpretivism, rights as trumps|
Ronald Myles Dworkin, FBA ( // ; December 11, 1931 – February 14, 2013) was an American philosopher, jurist, and scholar of United States constitutional law. At the time of his death, he was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University and Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. Dworkin had taught previously at Yale Law School and the University of Oxford, where he was the Professor of Jurisprudence, successor to renowned philosopher H. L. A. Hart. 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. After his death, the Harvard legal scholar Cass Sunstein said Dworkin was "one of the most important legal philosophers of the last 100 years. He may well head the list."
The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and the social sciences. It was established in 1902 and received its royal charter in the same year. It is now a fellowship of more than 1,000 leading scholars spanning all disciplines across the humanities and social sciences and a funding body for research projects across the United Kingdom. The academy is a self-governing and independent registered charity, based at 10–11 Carlton House Terrace in London.
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
A jurist is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence. Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer or law lecturer. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.
His theory of law as integrity as presented in his book titled Law's Empire , in which judges interpret the law in terms of consistent 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 .
In philosophy of law, law as integrity is a theory of law put forward by the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin. In general, it can be described as interpreting the law according to a community.
Law's Empire is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism as promoted by H.L.A. Hart during the middle to late 20th century. The book notably introduces Dworkin's Judge Hercules as an idealized version of a jurist with extraordinary legal skills who is able to challenge various predominating schools of legal interpretation and legal hermeneutics prominent throughout the 20th century. Judge Hercules is eventually challenged by Judge Hermes, another idealized version of a jurist who is affected by an affinity to respecting historical legal meaning arguments which do not affect Judge Hercules in the same manner. Judge Hermes' theory of legal interpretation is found by Dworkin in the end to be inferior to the approach of Judge Hercules.
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and, typically, in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on his or her interpretation of the law and his or her own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining magistrate.
Ronald Dworkin was born in 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island, United States, the son of Madeline (Talamo) and David Dworkin.His family was Jewish. He graduated from Harvard University in 1953 with an A.B. summa cum laude , then attended Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and a student of Sir Rupert Cross and J.H.C. Morris. After he completed his final year's exams at Oxford, the examiners were so impressed with his script that the Professor of Jurisprudence (then H. L. A. Hart) was summoned to read it. He was awarded a B.A. with a Congratulatory first. Dworkin then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1957 with an LL.B magna cum laude . He then clerked for Judge Learned Hand of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Hand would later call Dworkin "the law clerk to beat all law clerks" —and Dworkin would recall Judge Hand as an enormously influential mentor.
Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The university is often cited as the world's top tertiary institution by most publishers.
Magdalen College is one of the wealthiest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford, with a financial endowment of £273.2 million as of 2018.
After clerking for Judge Learned Hand, Dworkin was offered the opportunity to clerk for Justice Felix Frankfurter.He turned down the offer and joined Sullivan & Cromwell, a prominent law firm in New York City. After working at the firm, Dworkin became a Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he became the holder of the Wesley N. Hohfeld Chair of Jurisprudence.
Felix Frankfurter was an Austrian-American lawyer, professor, and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Frankfurter served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962 and was a noted advocate of judicial restraint in the judgments of the Court.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is an international law firm headquartered in New York City. It has gained renown for its business and commercial law practices and its impact on international affairs.
Yale Law School is the law school of Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, Yale Law offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., M.S.L., and Ph.D. degrees in law.
In 1969, Dworkin was appointed to the Chair of Jurisprudence at Oxford, a position in which he succeeded H. L. A. Hart (who remembered Dworkins's Oxford examination and promoted his candidacy) and was 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.
University College, is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. It has a claim to being the oldest college of the university, having been founded in 1249 by William of Durham.
Quain Professor is the professorship title for certain disciplines at University College London, England. The title is derived from Richard Quain (1800-1887) who became professor of anatomy in 1832 at what was to become UCL. He made a provision in his will to the University that endowed professorships for four subjects; intending that funding gave recognition to his brother, John Richard Quain, as well as his own.
Jurisprudence or legal theory is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning, legal systems, legal institutions, and the role of law in society.
Dworkin as a critic of HLA Hart's legal positivism has been summarized by the Stanford Encyclopedia which has stated that:
Legal positivism is a school of thought of analytical jurisprudence largely developed by legal thinkers in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. While Bentham and Austin developed legal positivist theory, empiricism set the theoretical foundations for such developments to occur. The most prominent legal positivist writer in English has been H. L. A. Hart, who, in 1958, found common usages of "positivism" as applied to law to include the contentions that:
Dworkin, as positivism's most significant critic, rejects the positivist theory on every conceivable level. Dworkin denies that there can be any general theory of the existence and content of law; he denies that local theories of particular legal systems can identify law without recourse to its moral merits, and he rejects the whole institutional focus of positivism. A theory of law is for Dworkin a theory of how cases ought to be decided and it begins, not with an account of the political organization of a legal system, but with an abstract ideal regulating the conditions under which governments may use coercive force over their subjects.
Dworkin is most famous for his critique of Hart's legal positivism; he sets forth the fullest statement of his critique in his book Law's Empire . Dworkin's theory is 'interpretive': the law is whatever follows from a constructive interpretation of the institutional history of the legal system.
Dworkin argues that moral principles that people hold dear are often wrong, even to the extent that certain crimes are acceptable if one's principles are skewed enough. To discover and apply these principles, courts interpret the legal data (legislation, cases etc.) with a view to articulating an interpretation that best explains and justifies past legal practice. All interpretation must follow, Dworkin argues, from the notion of "law as integrity" to make sense.
Out of the idea that law is 'interpretive' in this way, Dworkin argues that in every situation where people's legal rights are controversial, the best interpretation involves the right answer thesis, the thesis that there exists a right answer as a matter of law that the judge must discover. Dworkin opposes the notion that judges have a discretion in such difficult cases.
Dworkin's model of legal principles is also connected with Hart's notion of the Rule of Recognition. Dworkin rejects Hart's conception of a master rule in every legal system that identifies valid laws, on the basis that this would entail that the process of identifying law must be uncontroversial, whereas (Dworkin argues) people have legal rights even in cases where the correct legal outcome is open to reasonable dispute.
Dworkin moves away from positivism's separation of law and morality, since constructive interpretation implicates moral judgments in every decision about what the law is.
Despite their intellectual disagreements, Hart and Dworkin "remained on good terms."
In Dworkin's own words, his "right answer thesis" may be interpreted through the following words:
Suppose the legislature has passed a statute stipulating that "sacrilegious contracts shall henceforth be invalid." The community is divided as to whether a contract signed on Sunday is, for that reason alone, sacrilegious. It is known that very few of the legislators had that question in mind when they voted, and that they are now equally divided on the question of whether it should be so interpreted. Tom and Tim have signed a contract on Sunday, and Tom now sues Tim to enforce the terms of the contract, whose validity Tim contests. Shall we say that the judge must look for the right answer to the question of whether Tom's contract is valid, even though the community is deeply divided about what the right answer is? Or is it more realistic to say that there simply is no right answer to the question?
One of Dworkin's most interesting and controversial theses states that the law as properly interpreted will give an answer. This is not to say that everyone will have the same answer (a consensus of what is "right"), or if it did, the answer would not be justified exactly in the same way for every person; rather it means that there will be a necessary answer for each individual if he applies himself correctly to the legal question. For the correct method is that encapsulated by the metaphor of Judge Hercules, an ideal judge, immensely wise and with full knowledge of legal sources. Hercules (the name comes from a classical mythological hero) would also have plenty of time to decide. Acting on the premise that the law is a seamless web, Hercules is required to construct the theory that best fits and justifies the law as a whole (law as integrity) in order to decide any particular case. Hercules, Dworkin argues, would always come to the one right answer.[ citation needed ]
Dworkin does not deny that competent lawyers often disagree on what is the solution to a given case. On the contrary, he claims that they are disagreeing about the right answer to the case, the answer Hercules would give.[ citation needed ]
Dworkin's critics argue not only that law proper (that is, the legal sources in a positivist sense) is full of gaps and inconsistencies, but also that other legal standards (including principles) may be insufficient to solve a hard case. Some of them are incommensurable. In any of these situations, even Hercules would be in a dilemma and none of the possible answers would be the right one.[ citation needed ]
Dworkin's metaphor of judge Hercules bears some resemblance to Rawls' veil of ignorance and Habermas' ideal speech situation, in that they all suggest idealized methods of arriving at somehow valid normative propositions. The key difference with respect to the former is that Rawls' veil of ignorance translates almost seamlessly from the purely ideal to the practical. In relation to politics in a democratic society, for example, it is a way of saying that those in power should treat the political opposition consistently with how they would like to be treated when in opposition, because their present position offers no guarantee as to what their position will be in the political landscape of the future (i.e. they will inevitably form the opposition at some point). Dworkin's Judge Hercules, on the other hand, is a purely idealized construct, that is if such a figure existed, he would arrive at a right answer in every moral dilemma. For a critique along these lines see Lorenzo Zucca's Constitutional Dilemmas.
Dworkin's right answer thesis turns on the success of his attack on the skeptical argument that right answers in legal-moral dilemmas cannot be determined. Dworkin's anti-skeptical argument is essentially that the properties of the skeptic's claim are analogous to those of substantive moral claims, that is, in asserting that the truth or falsity of "legal-moral" dilemmas cannot be determined, the skeptic makes not a metaphysical claim about the way things are, but a moral claim to the effect that it is, in the face of epistemic uncertainty, unjust to determine legal-moral issues to the detriment of any given individual.[ citation needed ]
In her recent book on Hans Kelsen, Sandrine Baumeidentified Ronald Dworkin as a leading defender of the "compatibility of judicial review with the very principles of democracy." Baume identified John Hart Ely alongside Dworkin as the foremost defenders of this principle in recent years, while the opposition to this principle of "compatibility" was identified as Bruce Ackerman and Jeremy Waldron. Dworkin has been a long-time advocate of the principle of the moral reading of the Constitution whose lines of support he sees as strongly associated with enhanced versions of judicial review in the federal government.
Dworkin has also made important contributions to what is sometimes called the equality of what debate. In a famous pair of articles and his book Sovereign Virtue he advocates a theory he calls 'equality of resources'. This theory combines two key ideas. Broadly speaking, the first is that human beings are responsible for the life choices they make. The second is that natural endowments of intelligence and talent are morally arbitrary and ought not to affect the distribution of resources in society. Like the rest of Dworkin's work, his theory of equality is underpinned by the core principle that every person is entitled to equal concern and respect in the design of the structure of society. Dworkin's theory of equality is said to be one variety of so-called luck egalitarianism, but he rejects this statement (Philosophy and Public Affairs, v. 31: 2).
In the essay "Do Values Conflict? A Hedgehog's Approach" (Arizona Law Review, Vol 43:2), Dworkin contends that the values of liberty and equality do not necessarily conflict. He criticizes Isaiah Berlin's conception of liberty as "flat" and proposes a new, "dynamic" conception of liberty, suggesting that one cannot say that one's liberty is infringed when one is prevented from committing murder. Thus, liberty cannot be said to have been infringed when no wrong has been done. Put in this way, liberty is only liberty to do whatever we wish so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others.
While working for Judge Learned Hand, Dworkin met his future wife, Betsy Ross, with whom he would have twins Anthony and Jennifer.Betsy was the daughter of a successful New York businessman. They were married from 1958 until Betsy died of cancer in 2000. Dworkin later married Irene Brendel, the former wife of pianist Alfred Brendel.
Dworkin died of leukemia in London on February 14, 2013 at the age of 81.He is survived by his second wife, two children, and two grandchildren.
In September 2007, Dworkin was awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize. The award citation of the Holberg Prize Academic Committee recognized that Dworkin has "elaborated a liberal egalitarian theory" and stressed Dworkin's effort to develop "an original and highly influential legal theory grounding law in morality, characterized by a unique ability to tie together abstract philosophical ideas and arguments with concrete everyday concerns in law, morals, and politics".
The New York University Annual Survey of American Law honored Dworkin with its 2006 dedication.
In 2006, the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico honored Dworkin with the International Prize of legal Research "Dr. Héctor Fix-Zamudio".
In June 2000, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pennsylvania.In June 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of law by Harvard University. In August 2011, the University of Buenos Aires awarded Dworkin an honorary doctorate. The resolution noted that he "has tirelessly defended the rule of law, democracy and human rights." These were among a number of honorary doctorates conferred upon him.
On November 14, 2012, Dworkin received the Balzan Prize for Jurisprudence in Quirinale Palace, Rome, from the President of the Italian Republic. The Balzan Prize was awarded "for his fundamental contributions to Jurisprudence, characterized by outstanding originality and clarity of thought in a continuing and fruitful interaction with ethical and political theories and with legal practices".
He was an honorary Queen's Counsel (QC).
Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of law and law's relationship to other systems of norms, especially ethics and political philosophy. It asks questions like "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal validity?", and "What is the relationship between law and morality?" Philosophy of law and jurisprudence are often used interchangeably, though jurisprudence sometimes encompasses forms of reasoning that fit into economics or sociology.
Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding within themselves apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of "wholeness" deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others "have integrity" to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
The indeterminacy debate in legal theory can be summed up as follows: Can the law constrain the results reached by adjudicators in legal disputes? Some members of the critical legal studies movement — primarily legal academics in the United States — argued that the answer to this question is "no." Another way to state this position is to suggest that disputes cannot be resolved with clear answers and thus there is at least some amount of uncertainty in legal reasoning and its application to disputes. A given body of legal doctrine is said to be "indeterminate" by demonstrating that every legal rule in that body of legal doctrine is opposed by a counterrule that can be used in a process of legal reasoning.
Legal realism is a naturalistic approach to law and is the view that jurisprudence should emulate the methods of natural science, i.e., rely on empirical evidence. Hypotheses have to be tested against observations of the world.
Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart, FBA, usually cited as H. L. A. Hart, was a British legal philosopher, and a major figure in political and legal philosophy. He was Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University and the Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. His most famous work is The Concept of Law, which has been hailed as "the most important work of legal philosophy written in the twentieth century". He is considered one of the world's foremost legal philosophers in the twentieth century, alongside Hans Kelsen.
Lon Luvois Fuller was a noted legal philosopher, who criticized legal positivism and defended a secular and procedural form of natural law theory. Fuller was a professor of Law at Harvard University for many years, and is noted in American law for his contributions to both jurisprudence and the law of contracts. His debate in 1958 with the prominent British legal philosopher H. L. A. Hart in the Harvard Law Review was important in framing the modern conflict between legal positivism and natural law theory. In his widely discussed 1964 book, The Morality of Law, Fuller argues that all systems of law contain an "internal morality" that imposes on individuals a presumptive obligation of obedience. Robert S. Summers said in 1984: "Fuller was one of the four most important American legal theorists of the last hundred years".
John Austin was a noted English legal theorist, who influenced British and American law with his analytical approach to jurisprudence and his theory of legal positivism. In opposing traditional approaches of "natural law", Austin argued against any necessary connections between law and morality. Human legal systems, he claimed, can and should be studied in an empirical, value-free way.
Robert Alexy is a jurist and a legal philosopher.
The Concept of Law is a 1961 book by the legal philosopher HLA Hart and his most famous work.TheConcept of Law presents Hart's theory of legal positivism—the view that laws are rules made by humans and that there is no inherent or necessary connection between law and morality—within the framework of analytic philosophy. Hart sought to provide a theory of descriptive sociology and analytical jurisprudence. The book addresses a number of traditional jurisprudential topics such as the nature of law, whether laws are rules, and the relation between law and morality. Hart answers these by placing law into a social context while at the same time leaving the capability for rigorous analysis of legal terms, which in effect "awakened English jurisprudence from its comfortable slumbers".
Jeremy Waldron is a New Zealand professor of law and philosophy. He holds a University Professorship at the New York University School of Law and was formerly the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford University. Waldron also holds an adjunct professorship at Victoria University of Wellington. Waldron is regarded as one of the world's leading legal and political philosophers.
Riggs v. Palmer, 115 N.Y. 506 (1889), is an important New York state civil court case, in which the Court of Appeals of New York issued an 1889 opinion. Riggs was an example of the judiciary using the "social purpose" rule of statutory construction, the process of interpreting and applying legislation.
Taking Rights Seriously is a 1977 book about the philosophy of law by Ronald Dworkin. In this landmark book, Dworkin argues against the dominant philosophy of Anglo-American legal positivism as presented by H. L. A. Hart in The Concept of Law (1961) and utilitarianism by proposing that rights of the individual against the state exist outside of the written law and function as "trumps" against the interests or wishes of the majority.
The Hart–Dworkin debate is a debate in legal philosophy between H. L. A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin. At the heart of the debate lies a Dworkinian critique of Hartian legal positivism, specifically, the theory presented in Hart's book The Concept of Law.
This is an index of articles in jurisprudence.
Matthew Henry Kramer FBA is an American philosopher, currently Professor of Legal and Political Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He writes mainly in the areas of metaethics, normative ethics, legal philosophy, and political philosophy. He is a leading proponent of legal positivism. He has been Director of the Cambridge Forum for Legal and Political Philosophy since 2000. He has been teaching at Cambridge University and at Churchill College since 1994.
Henry Melvin Hart Jr. (1904–1969) was an American legal scholar who was an influential member of the Harvard Law School faculty from 1932 until his death in 1969.
Legal norms are binding rules of conduct that organisations of sovereign power promulgate and enforce in order to regulate social relations. Legal norms determine the rights and duties of individuals who are the subjects of legal relations within the governing jurisdiction at a given point in time. Competent state authority issue and publish basic aspects of legal norms through a collection of laws that individuals under that government must abide to, which is further guaranteed by state coercion. There are two categories of legal norms: normativity, that regulates the conduct of people, and generality, which are binding for the indefinite number of people and cases. Diplomatic and legislative immunity refers to instances where legal norms are constructed to be targeted towards a minority and are specifically only binding for them, such as soldiers and public officials.
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