Center for Law and Philosophy

Current Fellows

Jed Lewinsohn

Jed Lewinsohn received his BA from Cornell University in 2005, and his JD from Yale Law School in 2012; he expects to receive his PhD in philosophy from NYU in the summer of 2014. Jed works primarily in the areas of moral, legal, and political philosophy, and maintains an active interest in philosophical aspects of Jewish law.

As a Dworkin-Balzan fellow, Jed will continue work on moral and political theories that are “conventionalist” in their denial that the rights, obligations, and powers associated with property or contract law have a natural or pre-institutional basis. In particular, Jed will consider the following questions: what is the proper scope of a conventionalist theory, and do conventionalist theses about promising and property stand or fall together; what role does the state assume in standard conventionalist accounts of property and promising, and what is gained or lost if other entities, either comparatively local or global, fill that role; precisely to what extent does non-conventionalism about a given domain place constraints on lawmakers to respect the pre-institutional normative state of affairs.

Jed will apply this theoretical framework to consider practices that allow for impersonal dealings with others in the absence of substantial personal relationships or interactions. These practices, which play an especially prominent role in facilitating commercial life, are given legal expression in doctrines governing the assignment of rights, the delegation of duties, and the delegation of powers to agents. In each case, a substitution among the parties to a deontic relationship is given effect, which alters the identity of either the performing party (delegation of duties), the party to whom performance is to be given (assignment), or the party whose account is engaged in a transaction (agency). With respect to these practices, Jed will seek to answer the following questions: first, how are we to conceptualize both the content and the “directionality” of the obligations, if they are susceptible to the sorts of substitution that figure in the practices; second, precisely which values or interests explain why the practices are often restricted to certain social domains (e.g., the commercial sphere); third, are the practices creatures of the state or the legal system, which are grafted onto more basic promising principles, or do they have a more “natural” provenance or follow directly from more general principles.

Jacob Weinrib

Jacob Weinrib completed a JD/PhD in the Combined Program in Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto in 2013. In 2013-2014, Weinrib held a Global Research Fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law. His articles have appeared in the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Kantian Review, Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Law and Philosophy, and the University of Toronto Law Journal. They can be accessed here.

Weinrib works primarily at the intersection of legal philosophy and comparative constitutional law. The overarching purpose of his research is to formulate an original theory of the normative, institutional, and doctrinal dimensions of public law. Uniting each of these dimensions is the idea that public authority must be justified in terms of the right of each person bound by it to equal freedom. This approach culminates in an innovative justification of the institutional arrangements and fundamental doctrines of rights-based constitutional democracies in the postwar world, including judicial review and proportionality. The inspiration for Weinrib’s approach lies in a re-interpretation and extension of Kant’s theory of the state.

As a Dworkin-Balzan Fellow, Weinrib will be completing a book entitled, Dimensions of Dignity: The Theory and Practice of Modern Constitutional Law. The book will be published by the Cambridge University Press in the Studies in Constitutional Law series. An outline of the book can be found here.