Ronald Dworkin, a scholar and law expert who taught at New York University and University College London, has died of leukemia. He was 81 years old.
Dworkin was highly regarded in his field of study and was often quoted on legal matters, especially those pertaining to British law, which he was exceptionally well-versed in.
“He will be dearly missed by those of us who were lucky enough to know him and by the countless people who followed and admired his work,” NYU Law School dean Richard Revesz said.
Dworkin based his teachings on his belief that our laws should be rooted in integrity and moral clarity, which would make it easier for every member of society to be treated as equals. He argued that several sections of the Constitution were written in too abstract a way.
“These clauses must be understood in the way their language most naturally suggests: they refer to abstract moral principles and incorporate these by reference, as limits on the government’s power,” he said.
Despite all his successes and admirers, Dworkin never quite knew how to describe his own work, or judge it with any accuracy.
“I’ve tried to be responsible for my decisions and to make an authentic life,” he said. “When I was a Wall Street lawyer, I realized I didn’t want that life. So I went and did what I found most fulfilling, thinking about, arguing for the things that are hard, important and rewarding. I’ve tried to do it well. I can’t say if I’ve succeeded.”