Ronald DworkinThe following anecdote does not reflect well on me, I am afraid. When I was an Oxford undergraduate I became gradually aware of important intellectual personalities around me, particularly in my college, and even if they weren’t teaching me. I recognised them by their tics and their traits and gradually got to know some of them personally. But, much to my regret, I never got to know Ronald Dworkin, who died a few days ago, personally, despite the fact that I was studying philosophy and he was a legal philosopher and a fellow of my college and we did meet occasionally. On the other hand, I did know all about him. In the first place, he was, with his unfeasibly large spectacles and floppy hair (see the picture), distinctive and immediately recognisable. In the second place, he was the first person I ever met who thought nothing of teaching in Europe and America at the same time. In a period (the mid-1970s) when trans-Atlantic travel was still considered fairly exotic, Dworkin was effectively commuting between New York, Yale and HarvardĀ and London and Oxford. In the third place, in 1977 he published the seminalĀ Taking Rights Seriously which was said to have put him up there alongside the likes of John Rawls and Robert Nozick and turned this already exotic creature into a sort of demi-god. In retrospect, the 1970s was a decade of the sweeping treatise and the grand title, starting with Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970), revving up with Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), ratcheting up further with Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia, and racketing along with Taking Rights Seriously and Bull’s contemporaneous The Anarchical Society. Extraordinarily, Taking Rights Seriously was Dworkin’s first book. Many more would follow from the pen of a man who was surely one of the intellectual giants of his age.