Ronald Dworkin wins Balzan Prize

Ronald DworkinRonald Dworkin, Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law, has won a 2012 Balzan Prize in the area of jurisprudence for his groundbreaking scholarship. The citation accompanying the prize, which comes with an award of 750,000 Swiss francs (approximately $800,000), lauded Dworkin’s “fundamental contributions to jurisprudence, characterized by outstanding gifts of sharpness, originality, and clarity of thought in a constant and fruitful interaction with ethical and political theories and with legal practices.”

The Balzan Prize, awarded in a number of subjects each year by a foundation based in Milan and Zurich, encourages innovative scholarly work in the service of promoting peace and cultural growth through intellectual pursuits. The foundation stipulates that half of the award money must be allocated to research, with a preference for the involvement of young scholars. Dworkin is one of only four recipients this year; the others are a German musicologist, an Australian earth scientist, and a British geneticist.

Dworkin, a leading figure in the philosophy of law and political philosophy, previously received the 2007 Holberg International Memorial Prize. A survey published in the Journal of Legal Studies in 2000 found that Dworkin was the second most-cited U.S. legal scholar in the 20th century. He is a frequent public commentator on political and legal issues. In Dworkin’s most recent book, Justice for Hedgehogs, he argues that what truth is, what life means, what morality requires, and what justice demands are different aspects of the same large question.

University Professor Thomas Nagel, who co-teaches the highly regarded Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy with Dworkin, received the Balzan Prize in 2008 for his scholarship on moral philosophy. Nagel used his prize to establish a fellowship program in NYU's Department of Philosophy for visiting graduate students from regions of the world with more limited opportunities.

Posted on September 18, 2012