Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron
Born (1953-10-13) 13 October 1953
New Zealand
Alma mater University of Otago
Lincoln College, Oxford
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Main interests
Legal philosophy

Jeremy Waldron (/ˈwɔːldrən/; born 13 October 1953) is a New Zealand professor of law and philosophy. He holds a University Professorship at the New York University School of Law and was formerly the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford University. Waldron also holds an adjunct professorship at Victoria University of Wellington. Waldron is regarded as one of the world's leading legal and political philosophers.[1][2][3]

Early life and education

Waldron attended Southland Boys' High School, and then went on to study at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1974 and an LL.B. in 1978. He later studied for a D.Phil. at Lincoln College, Oxford under legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin and political theorist Alan Ryan; Waldron graduated in 1986.[4]


He also taught legal and political philosophy at Otago (1975–78), Lincoln College, Oxford (1980–82), the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (1983–87), the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley (1986–96), Princeton University (1996–97), and Columbia Law School (1997–2006). He has also been a visiting professor at Cornell (1989–90), Otago (1991–92) and Columbia (1995) Universities. Currently at NYU he teaches Rule of Law, Jurisprudence, seminars on Property and Human Dignity and regularly hosts the Colloquium on Legal, Social and Political Philosophy, founded by Ronald Dworkin and Thomas Nagel in 1987, and currently convened by Liam Murphy, Samuel Scheffler, and Waldron.[5]

Waldron gave the second series of Seeley Lectures at Cambridge University in 1996, the 1999 Carlyle Lectures at Oxford, the spring 2000 University Lecture at Columbia Law School, the Wesson Lectures at Stanford University in 2004, the Storrs Lectures at Yale Law School in 2007, and the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2015. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998.

In 2005, Waldron received an honorary doctorate from the University of Otago, his alma mater.

Legal and philosophical views

Waldron is a liberal and a normative legal positivist. He has written extensively on the analysis and justification of private property and on the political and legal philosophy of John Locke. He is an outspoken opponent of judicial review and of torture, both of which he believes to be in tension with democratic principles. He believes that hate speech should not be protected by the First Amendment.[6] His later work is devoted to provide a non-religious and non-kantian concept of human dignity, based on a thought experiment of leveling up all human beings to the high rank of nobility or aristocracy, thus constituting a single rank or caste. He has been working on this topic since he gave the Tanner Lectures on the subject in 2009, which were later published in 2012 as "Dignity, Rank and Rights" [7]

Waldron has also criticized analytic legal philosophy for its failure to engage with the questions addressed by political theory.

Criticism of judicial review

In her recent book on Hans Kelsen, Sandrine Baume identified Jeremy Waldron and Bruce Ackerman as leading critics of the "compatibility of judicial review with the very principles of democracy".[8] Baume identified John Hart Ely alongside Dworkin as the foremost defenders of this principle in recent years, while the opposition to this principle of "compatibility" were identified as Bruce Ackerman[9] and Jeremy Waldron.[10] In contrast to Waldron and Ackerman, Dworkin was a long-time advocate of the principle of the moral reading of the constitution whose lines of support he sees as strongly associated with enhanced versions of judicial review in the federal government.

A staunch defender of the principle of democratic legislation, in an article titled "The Core of the Case against Judicial Review", Waldron has argued for a limited role for judicial review in a robust democratic government.[11] Waldron asserts that there is no inherent advantage to a judiciary's protection of rights than to a legislature's if (1) there is a broadly democratic political system with appropriate suffrage and process,[12](2) there is a system of courts somewhat insulated from popular pressure and engaged in judicial review,[13] there is a general commitment to rights,[14] and there is disagreement as to the content and extent of rights.[15] Even so, Waldron does not argue against the existence of judicial review, which may be appropriate when there is institutional dysfunction. In this case, the defense of judicial review compatible with democracy is limited to remedies for that dysfunction and are neither unlimited nor universal. Thus Waldron places his view of judicial review in the tradition of Justice Harlan Fiske Stone.[16]

Affinity with judicial minimalism

In a review of a 2015 book by Cass Sunstein, Waldron has stated that between the polarity represented by judges who can be "heroic" in the interpretation of their judgements and those who abstain, that his preference would be sympathetic to a position which could be described as "judicial minimalism". Waldron states his examples of such judges as including Sandra O'Connor, Ruth Ginsburg, and Felix Frankfurter.[17]





  6. Voices on Antisemitism Interview with Jeremy Waldron from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  8. Baume, Sandrine (2011). Hans Kelsen and the Case for Democracy, ECPR Press, pp53-54.
  9. Ackerman, Bruce (1991). We the People.
  10. Waldron, Jeremy (2006). "The Core of the case against judicial review," The Yale Law Review, 2006, Vol. 115, pp 1346-1406.
  11. Jeremy Waldron, "The Core of the Case against Judicial Review," 115 Yale Law Review 1346 (2006).
  12. Id. at 3161
  13. Id. at 1363
  14. Id. at 1366.
  15. Id. at 1367.
  16. Id at 1403, citing United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 153 n.4 (1938).
  17. Jeremy Waldron. Review of Cass Sustein. The New York Review of Books, March 1, 2016.

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