photo of Ronald Dworkin


Professor Ronald Dworkin: December 11, 1931 - February 14, 2013


"It is with great sadness that we note the death of Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence Professor Ronald Dworkin. This is a tremendous loss. We extend our deepest sympathy to Professor Dworkin’s family." 

- Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Dean of UCL Faculty of Laws.


A Tribute by Professor Stephen Guest:

Professor Ronald Dworkin, who held joint appointments as a professor in Law and Philosophy with UCL Laws, the NYU School of Law and the New College of the Humanities of the University of London, died last night aged 81, in London, after suffering for some months from a rare form of leukaemia. He will be missed by many people world-wide, not just by his friends, nor just by the academic community, for through his writings in different genres and his genial and generous personality he had an enormous impact on many people beyond academia, including lawyers from all jurisdictions. He is well-known amongst judges and practising lawyers in America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Malaysia, China, and elsewhere.

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In Memoriam: Ronald Dworkin, Dr George Letsas

Ronald Dworkin transformed the way we understand legal and political argument and in particular legal and political disagreement. I would go as far as calling it a paradigm shift in political philosophy. Modern politics can be polarized and divided over fundamental issues such as taxation, abortion, free speech and terrorism. This is particularly the case in the USA, Dworkin’s home country, but it is also the case now in most liberal democracies. It is typical to view such disagreements as conflicts between different political values, values that can win or lose electoral support, but can never be reconciled. Contrary to this cynical view, Dworkin insisted that there is something we all share every time we disagree in politics. We share a commitment to some abstract moral value – like liberty or equality- and each side is proposing a different interpretation of that value. So political debate is not about trying to get more people to support your values over the values of others, with a view to outnumber them. It is not about ‘politics’ in the derogatory sense of the word.  It is about achieving the best possible interpretation of a value we all share. Disagreement is where political debate begins, not where it ends, and moral argument is central to it. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our fellow citizens to seek the best moral understanding of the values we all share.

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Further Tributes by the UCL Community

Further tributes to Ronald Dworkin by Cecile Laborde, Stuart Lakin, Salading Meckled-Garcia, Michael Otsuka and Eva Pils.

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Audio of Ronald Dworkin's Valedictory Lecture: Can we disagree about laws and morals?

[ Full lecture mp3 ]


End of a Golden Era?
UCL’s Colloquium in Legal & Social Philosophy : Interviews with Professors Ronald Dworkin, Jonathan Wolff and Stephen Guest

Since 1998, Professor Dworkin, whose work in the past 30 years has had a global impact on the agenda of the modern debate in legal and political philosophy, has chaired our Colloquium in Legal and Social Philosophy at which distinguished thinkers in legal and political philosophy present new research. He stepped down from the Chair of the Colloquium programme at the end of the last academic year, but will be inaugurating this year’s programme by presenting a new paper.

[ Full interview PDF Download ]


Selected Pictures of Ronald Dworkin

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Ronald Dworkin: Third Edition by Stephen Guest

Ronald Dworkin is widely accepted as the most important and most controversial Anglo-American jurist of the past forty years. And this same-named volume on his work has become a minor classic in the field, offering the most complete analysis and integration of Dworkin's work to date. This third edition offers a substantial revision of earlier texts and, most importantly, incorporates discussion of Dworkin's recent masterwork Justice for Hedgehogs.

Accessibly written for a wide readership, this book captures the complexity and depth of thought of Ronald Dworkin. Displaying a long-standing commitment to Dworkin's work, Stephen Guest clearly highlights the scholar's key theories to illustrate a guiding principle over the course of Dworkin's work: that there are right answers to questions of moral value. In assessing this principle, Guest also expands his analysis of contemporary critiques of Dworkin. The third edition includes an updated and complete bibliography of Dworkin's work.

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Selected Tributes

» Remebering Ronald Dworkin by Charles Fried

» Ronald Dworkin: A Eulogy by Jim Flemming

» The Most Important Legal Philosopher of Our Time by Cass R Sunstein

» Ronald Dworkin RIP by Randy Barnett