By Jane Nambi
Legal philosopher, Ronald Dworkin died yesterday, Thursday in London at the age of 81.
The cause of death was leukemia according to the dean of the New York University School of Law, Richard Ravesz who announced the death.
Prof. Dworkin was a member of the school’s faculty for a long time and also taught at the University College, LondonJudge Guido Calabresi said
Professor Dworkin was “the primary legal philosopher of his generation”. Judge Guido Calabresi was a former dean of Yale Law School.
During a 2005 interview, Prof. Dworkin said, “The dominant voice you hear is about justice and injustice and what a decent society will tolerate and what it won’t.”
Thomas Nagel, a philosopher said in a 2007 tribute to his friend saying that Professor Dworkin could “explain difficult moral issues about law, politics and society in lucid terms to a general nonacademic audience — without in any way watering them down or simplifying them.”
His critics said Professor Dworkin’s approach was a smoke screen. “Dworkin writes with great complexity but, in the end, always discovers that the moral philosophy appropriate to the Constitution produces the results that a liberal moral relativist prefers,” Robert H. Bork, the onetime Supreme Court nominee, who died in December, wrote in 1997 in “The Tempting of America.”
Born in Providence, R.I., on Dec. 11, 1931, Ronald Myles Dworkin’s parents divorced when he was young, and he said his memories of his father were hazy although he believed his father had emigrated from Lithuania as a child. His mother, Madeline, raised three children on her own by teaching piano. He went to Harvard on a scholarship reserved for graduates of Providence’s public schools. “There were rarely any takers,” Professor Dworkin recalled.
After graduating from Harvard, he attended Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and obtained law degrees from both places. He spent much of his life with one foot in the United States and the other in Britain, living part of the year in each place.
His first wife, the former Betsy Ross, died in 2000 but is survived by his wife, Irene Brendel Dworkin; his twin children, Anthony, a writer and expert on war crimes, and Jennifer Dworkin, a philosopher and filmmaker; and two grandchildren.