Back to list

Leading thinker honored with 2018 Tang Prize in rule of law

2018/06/21 12:01:36

Joseph Raz; image taken from www.tang-prize.org

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Joseph Raz, a leading thinker, was named recipient of the 2018 Tang Prize in rule of law for his groundbreaking contributions to the field that have helped to deepen people's understanding of the nature of law, legal reasoning and the relationship between law, morality and freedom.

Lin Tzu-yi (林子儀), director and distinguished research fellow of Institute Jurisprudence, Academia Sinica, made the announcement on Thursday at a press conference in Taipei in his role as convener of the prize's Selection Committee.

According to the committee's citation, Raz is "one of the foremost legal philosophers of our time and a moral and political theorist of major influence" who has made profound contributions to the three branches of philosophy -- legal, moral and political philosophy -- in an integrated and comprehensive manner.

Born in Mandate, Palestine in 1939, the 79-year-old spent most of his career as a professor of philosophy of law at the University of Oxford associated with Balliol College in the United Kingdom from 1985-2006.

He is now the Thomas M. Macioce Professor of Law at Columbia Law School in the United States and a research professor of law at King's College London in the U.K.

Raz graduated in 1963 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a Magister Juris (Mas­ter of Jurisprudence) and completed a D.Phil at Balliol College in 1967.

He then returned to Israel to lecture in the Faculty of Law and Development of Philosophy at Hebrew University before he became a fellow and tutor in law at Balliol College in 1972.

Over the past fifty years, Raz has developed a reputation as "one of the most acute, inventive, and energetic scholars currently at work in analytic legal, moral and political theory," according to the citation.

Albie Sachs, a former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, received the inaugural Tang Prize in rule of law in 2014, and Louise Arbour, a Canadian lawyer who has served as United Nations high commissioner for human rights, was named winner of the prize in that category in 2016.

The selection of Raz demonstrates that the Tang Prize in rule of law recognizes individuals for their contributions not only in realizing the rule of law in contemporary societies through their work, as with the previous laureates, but also in terms of advancement of legal theory.

Raz has spent his life as a legal scholar exploring jurisprudence, or legal philosophy, engaging with issues on the legal validity of law, the nature of authority, normative reasons guiding people's responses to the world through emotions, thoughts, beliefs and actions, and the connection between law and morality.

"One might not be agreeing with him (Raz) on every subject but his theses are serious takes on the jurisprudential issues he tackled, which one must engage if we are to probe deeper into those questions," the Selection Committee said in its citation.

In this sense, the committee said, Raz perhaps has made more contributions "than any other living jurists or legal theorists" in terms of enhancing people's understanding of law.

Among the many values a legal system should possess, Raz argues, is its ability to curb the arbitrary use of power and safeguard individual freedom, according to the committee.

Raz's work on rule of law, legal rights, legal interpretation, the methodology of legal theory, negligence and responsibility, the connections between practical reason and the theory of value, human rights, sovereignty, and democracy, is an invaluable source for anyone working in legal, moral and political philosophy, it said.

The laureate will receive a cash prize of NT$40 million (US$1.33 million) and a research grant of up to NT$10 million to be used within five years, as well as a medal and a certificate.

With his unflagging dedication to the study of the rule of law, Raz now adds the Tang Prize to his long list of honors.

He has been elected as a fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts & Science, received honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, King's College London, and the Catholic University of Brussels in Belgium, and also won the Hector Fix-Zamudio, International Prize for Legal Research, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
Enditem/sc/AW