“Dworkin writes with great complexity,” Bork wrote in his 1997 book “The Tempting of America,” “but, in the end, always discovers that the moral philosophy appropriate to the Constitution produces the results that a liberal moral relativist prefers.”
Ronald Myles Dworkin was born in Worcester, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1931, and completed high school in Providence, R.I. He graduated from Harvard University in 1953, then studied law at Oxford two years on a Rhodes scholarship. After receiving his law degree from Harvard in 1957, he worked as a law clerk for Hand.
Mr. Dworkin practiced law in New York for a few years, then taught at Yale from 1962 to 1968. He was at Oxford from 1968 to 1998 and, beginning in 1975, had a joint professorship at NYU, where he led a weekly symposium in which he exchanged ideas with other legal theorists, philosophers and scholars.
Mr. Dworkin’s wife, Betsy Ross Dworkin, died in 2000 after 41 years of marriage. He was romantically linked with Irene Semler Brendel, who was previously married to classical pianist Alfred Brendel. Other survivors include twin children from his marriage, Anthony Dworkin and Jennifer Dworkin, and two grandchildren.
Known as an eloquent speaker and sparkling writer, Mr. Dworkin touched on deeply philosophical subjects in some of his books about the law.
“Death’s central horror is oblivion — the terrifying, absolute dying of the light,” he wrote in “Life’s Dominion.”
But he also liked to recall the time he introduced his future wife to Hand, often called the greatest U.S. judge never to serve on the Supreme Court. The 85-year-old jurist invited the young couple into his house, mixed dry martinis and talked for two hours about art history, politics and education.
Mr. Dworkin’s future wife was charmed by the elderly judge.
“If I see more of you,” she asked Mr. Dworkin, “do I get to see more of him?”