The Legacy of Ronald Dworkin


May 7–8, 2015

Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Buenos Aires
Figueroa Alcorta 2263 (corner of Pueyrredón), Salón Rojo, Ground Level
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sponsored by NYU School of Law and Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) Law School

Ronald Dworkin was one of the most outstanding, moral, political, and legal philosophers of the past century. All around the globe, Dworkin's writings have inspired scholars interested in the critical assessment of positivism, the challenges posed by relativism and subjectivism, or the means of achieving equality, as well as activists fighting for reproductive and sexual justice or against perfectionism. Equally important is his demanding conception of the judicial role in a constitutional democracy. On all these levels his writings have provoked intense discussions that will probably endure for decades.

Dworkin's influence in Argentina has been substantial. He visited Argentina in 1985, invited by President Raúl Alfonsín, alongside Owen Fiss, Thomas Nagel, Thomas Scanlon, and Bernard Williams. With the guidance of Carlos Nino, these philosophers attended the historic Junta Trial, and Dworkin later expressed his own impressions of those days in a remarkable article published in the New York Review of Books, “Report from Hell” (which later became the prologue of the English version of the “Nunca Más” report on the desaparecidos). Dworkin has been often cited by the Argentinean Supreme Court, as a key reference for the protection of fundamental liberties. Dworkin once again visited Argentina in 2011, when the University of Buenos Aires awarded him with its highest distinction, an Honoris Causa Doctorate. On that occasion, he gave two memorable lectures. One of these lectures, in which he proposed a new philosophy for international law, was published posthumously in Philosophy and Public Affairs.

As part of their joint academic program, NYU School of Law and UBA Law School wished to honor the legacy of Ronald Dworkin by reopening the dialogue on his contributions and scholarship. To this purpose, a conference was convened in Buenos Aires. The subjects to be discussed include, but are not limited to:

a) Ronald Dworkin’s jurisprudential and moral theories. Topics: Dworkin's response to relativism in morality and in the Law; his theory of interpretation; and his notion of the unity of value.

b) Dworkin's political philosophy. Topics: The future of liberalism in Latin America. Dworkin’s conception of social justice and applications to issues such as health justice; criminal prosecution of social protesters; debates over abortion in Latin America and Europe; equality in the educational domain, abuses of intellectual property, and other problems.

c) Dworkin’s constitutional ideas. The moral reading of the constitution and the role of democratic judges. Topics: the challenge for “dworkinian” Latin American judges in the context of constitutions that strongly protect socio-economic rights or lack a clear separation between state and religion

d) The dialogue between Dworkin’s ideas and the conceptions of Latin American liberals such as Carlos Nino.

e) Dworkin’s actual and potential influence in current discussions of international law and universal and global justice.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

10:00 Opening Remarks

10:15–12:15 Positivism, Conventionalism and Interpretation


  • Paula Gaido, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Ténicas - Universidad Nacional de Córdoba


  • Doing Without: An Eliminativist Approach to the Concept of Law
    Lewis Kornhauser, New York University School of Law
  • Dworkin’s Critique of Legal Conventionalism and Its Relevance
    Ronaldo Porto Macedo, Fundação Getulio Vargas
  • Definite Law Does Not Require Interpretation, Except for the Experts
    José Reinaldo de Lima Lopes, Universidade de São Paulo

12:30–14:15 Lunch


14:30–16:00 The Right Answer Thesis, the Claim to Correctness, and Proportionality


  • Mary Beloff, Universidad de Buenos Aires


  • Reframing the Claim to Correctness from the Right Answer Thesis
    Laura Clerico, Universidad de Buenos Aires
    Martin Aldao, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • When Trumps Clash: Dworkin and the Doctrine of Proportionality
    Jacob Weinrib, New York University School of Law

16:15–18:15 Application of Dworkin’s Ideas to the Real World, to Global Adjudication, and to Latin America’s Context



  • Judges, Salomonic Solutions and Axiological Equality before the Law
    Marisa Iglesias Vila, Pompeu Fabra
  • Hercules in Latin America
    Marcelo Alegre, Universidad de Buenos Aires, NYU Law in Buenos Aires

Friday, May 8, 2015

10:00–12:00 The Unity of Value, Liberal Ethics and Political Obligation



  • Obsession with Unity
    Martín Farrell, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad de Palermo
  • Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Rethinking the “Philosopher’s Brief”
    Eduardo Rivera López, Universidad Torcuato De Tella, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
  • Dworkin and Political Obligation
    Carlos Rosenkrantz, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad de San Andrés

12:00–13:50 Lunch


14:00–15:45 Foundations of International Law and Human Rights



  • Ronald Dworkin and International Law – An Unfinished Engagement
    Robert Howse, New York University School of Law
  • Constructive Interpretation and Human Rights
    Julio Montero, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Ténicas

16:00–18:15 Dworkin, Nino and Democracy


  • Paola Bergallo, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad de Palermo, Universidad de Buenos Aires


  • Transitional Justice for Hedgehogs
    Ruti Teitel, New York Law School
  • A Community of Interpreters: Dworkin and the Practice of Judging in Argentina
    Roberto Saba, Universidad de Palermo, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • Argentina and the Memory of Ronald Dworkin
    Samuel Issacharoff, New York University School of Law
  • On Novels and Cathedrals. A Comparison Between Dworkin’s and Nino’s Take on an Aspect of Constitutional Practice
    Martín Böhmer, Universidad de Buenos Aires, NYU Law in Buenos Aires