UCL Laws People
QC, MA, FBA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence
Image of Professor Dworkin by Leo Sorel
Ronald Dworkin is widely regarded as the leading living figure in legal philosophy and also among the few leading figures in political philosophy. He is also a public intellectual as well as an academic philosopher and has written controversial and influential articles on matters of public political controversy for many years, particularly in The New York Review of Books. He recently won the prestigious Holberg Prize of Norway and Luhmann Medal of Germany, and in 2005 was awarded the Jefferson Medal of Virginia for lifetime achievement. Originally appointed as a Visiting Professor of Jurisprudence to UCL, he became Quain Professor of Jurisprudence in 1998 and the Jeremy Bentham Professor in 2005. He also occupies the Frank H. Sommer Chair of Law and Philosophy at New York University, which he has done since 1985. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and also Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
What is particular and important about Dworkin’s work is its insistence on a marriage between pure philosophy and the practical business of political and legal argument. He argues that the most important virtue that law can display is that of integrity, which should be understood as the moral idea that the state should act on principle so each member of the community is treated as an equal (Law’s Empire, 1986). Also to that end, he has produced an account of political argument in which equality, understood in terms of equality of dignity and respect, justifies a. the distribution of material resources by ignoring the distribution of luck in the possession of handicaps and talents (Sovereign Virtue, 1999) b. the private right of individuals to make moral decisions about matters concerning intrinsic worth (Life’s Dominion, 1993) and c. the characteristic elements and structures of democratic decision-making, including judicial review (Freedom’s Law 1996).
- Taking Rights Seriously (1977)
- A Matter of Principle (1985)
- Law’s Empire (1986)
- Issues in Senile Dementia (1987)
- A Bill of Rights for Britain (1990)
- Life’s Dominion (1993)
- Freedom’s Law: the Moral Reading of the American Constitution (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).
Colloquium in Legal and Social Philosophy
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