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In Memoriam: Professor Ronald Dworkin


February 14, 2013 -- ​Professor Ronald Dworkin, a distinguished scholar in residence with the UCLA Law and Philosophy Program, and professor of philosophy and Frank Henry Sommer professor of law at New York University, passed away today in London, after a battle with leukemia.

Professor Dworkin was one of the nation’s preeminent scholars of jurisprudence and political philosophy and is considered by many to be the most influential figure in contemporary Anglo-American legal theory. He joined the UCLA Law community in 2010, and visited the law school each year to participate in Legal Theory Workshops, meet with students and faculty members and discuss his recent scholarly work.

He taught jurisprudence at both Yale Law School, where he was Holhfeld Professor, and the University of Oxford, where he was Professor of Jurisprudence and Fellow. In 1969, he was appointed Chair of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford, succeeding renowned philosopher and Oxford Professor of Jurisprudence H.L.A. Hart in that position.

Professor Dworkin authored a great number of scholarly articles in philosophical and legal journals, as well as articles on legal and political topics in the New York Review of Books. His books include: Taking Rights Seriously (1977); A Matter of Principle (1985); Law's Empire (1986); Philosophical Issues in Senile Dementia (1987); A Bill of Rights for Britain (1990); Life's Dominion (1993); Freedom's Law (1996); Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality (2000); Justice in Robes (2006); Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate (2006); and, Justice for Hedgehogs (2011). Several of his books have been translated into the major European languages, as well as Japanese and Chinese. Law's Empire received both the prestigious Coif Award from the American Bar Association as the best book written on law over a three year period and the Ames Prize of Harvard Law School for the best book on law over a five-year period.

In his distinguished career, he was the recipient of many prestigious awards. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University, joining a highly select group of individuals who have received this degree, including John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and John Rawls. He received the Ludvig Holberg International Memorial Prize (2007), which is akin to the Nobel Prize in law and philosophy, and the Balzan Prize for Jurisprudence (2012). He was also a fellow of both the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Professor Dworkin is survived by his wife, Irene Brendel Dworkin; his children, Anthony and Jennifer Dworkin; and two grandchildren.

The UCLA Law community mourns his passing. He was an illustrious scholar, and he will be greatly missed.