NewYorkUniversity
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Jeremy Waldron

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Professor Ronald Dworkin

Jeremy Waldron, Lewis A. Kornhauser, The Honorable Stephen Breyer, T.M. Scanlon, Rebecca L. Brown, Liam Murphy, Robert B. Silvers, Thomas Nagel

Last year, the NYU community lost an intellectual giant in Professor Ronald Dworkin. The school and the Law Review joined together to honor Professor Dworkin’s writings, ideas, and of course, his legendary colloquia. Academics, philosophers, and judges gathered to pay tribute. In the pages that follow, we proudly publish written versions of those tributes.1 The ceremony closed with a short video clip of one of Professor Dworkin’s last speeches, titled Einstein’s Worship. His words provide a fitting introduction:

“We emphasize—we should emphasize—our responsibility, a responsibility shared by theists and atheists alike, a responsibility that we have in virtue of our humanity to think about these issues, to reject the skeptical conclusion that it’s just a matter of what we think and therefore we don’t have to think. We need to test our convictions. Our convictions must be coherent. They must be authentic; we must come to feel them as our convictions. But when they survive that test of responsibility, they’ve also survived any philosophical challenge that can be made. In that case, you burnish your convictions, you test your convictions, and what you then believe, you better believe it. That’s what I have to say about the meaning of life. Tomorrow: the universe.”

Positivism and Legality: Hart’s Equivocal Response to Fuller

Jeremy Waldron

Lon Fuller, in his response to H.L.A. Hart’s 1958 Holmes Lecture and elsewhere, argued that principles of legality—formal principles requiring, for example, that laws be clear, general, and prospective—constitute the “internal morality of law.” This Article contends that Hart never offered a clear response. Fuller’s claim supposes that observance of the principles of legality is both fundamental to law and inherently moral. In different writings, Hart seems variously to affirm and to deny that legality is a necessary criterion for the existence of law. Likewise, he sometimes suggests and elsewhere scorns the idea that legality has moral significance. This Article proposes that Hart’s apparent inconsistency might actually reflect the complexity of the terms. Some degree of legality might be a prerequisite of law, while some failures of legality might not condemn it. Principles of legality might have contingent rather than inherent moral value, might have moral value that is severable from their legal value, or might have both positive and negative moral effect. The Article argues, furthermore, that even the conclusion Hart strains to avoid— that legality inevitably links morality and law—is compatible with Hart’s positivism and opens a promising field for positivist jurisprudence.