Ronald Dworkin, 1931-2013

Ronald DworkinWe record with sorrow the death of our colleague, Ronald Dworkin, in London on 14 February 2013. Professor Dworkin was 81 years old, and is survived by his wife Irene Brendel Dworkin, his children Anthony and Jennifer Dworkin, and two grandchildren.

During his tenure of the Professorship of Jurisprudence in Oxford from 1969 to 1998, Professor Dworkin wrote Taking Rights Seriously (1977), A Matter of Principle (1985), Law's Empire (1986), and Freedom's Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution (1996). These works display the most extraordinary gifts of intellectual flair and argumentative energy, which Professor Dworkin brought to bear on the most difficult and important issues of legal and political philosophy. Those gifts were familiar to generations of Oxford students, who benefited from his brilliant lectures and seminars. His work has created new challenges and new possibilities for his students and colleagues.

John Gardner, today's Professor of Jurisprudence, writes: 'There are several contenders for the title of greatest philosopher of law of the late twentieth century. But nobody rivals Ronald Dworkin for the titles of most innovative and most provocative. Agree or disagree, Dworkin's work was impossible to ignore. He always made the most startling challenges to received wisdom, and permanently changed the way we look at many ancient problems. In oral argument he was unrivalled, outwitting his opponents with what looked like consummate ease, and always flawlessly elegant in presentation. On top of all that he was terrific company. The loss of Ronnie takes a bit of the sparkle out of life as a philosopher of law. Fortunately, his legacy includes a great deal of sparkling prose by which we, and generations after us, can still know his towering and magical intellect.'