Renowned philosopher Joseph Raz, a professor in Oxford, Columbia, and King’s College London, is awarded 2018 Tang Prize in Rule of Law. In the announcement press conference on June 21, Chair of the Selection Committee Professor Tzu-Yi Lin said, amid contributions to the rule of law, the Tang Prize seeks to recognize tangible advancements – in areas of protection of human rights or achieving peace and justice, for example – as well as scholarly and theoretical breakthroughs. This has been in the award criteria of the Rule of Law Prize since its initiation, placing emphasis on originality and impacts of the contributions. Consisted of both the academics and legal practitioners from different jurisdictions, the Selection Committee recognized Joseph Raz for his path-breaking thoughts on fundamental aspects of legal studies, on which he offers a magisterial framework for deeper thinking, debates and dialogue. In light of what we see in the present world, with divergent views, fragmented societies, and pressing needs for collective achievement of common goods, clear thinking on those fundamental aspects is even more important today.
Born 1939 in Mandate Palestine, Joseph Raz has been a profound thinker and prolific writer in legal, political and moral philosophy for more than 50 years. His rigorous analyses on the nature of law, normativity and reasons, justification of authority, and the inter-relationships between law, morality and freedom, provides an invaluable source from which people deliberating on those issues may draw ideas. Dr. Peng-Hsiang Wang, Associate Research Professor at Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica said, it is in those fundamental dimensions Raz’s thoughts and scrupulous analyses, with remarkable articulation and clinical precision, offer us critical, awakening, as well as thought-provoking reflections on the meanings and value of law.
Dr. Ser-Min Shei, Professor at Department of Philosophy, National Chung Cheng University further elucidated Raz’s thoughts on legal and practical philosophy, in particular the theses he made on the rule of law, legal positivism, normativity and reasons, authority, autonomy, and liberalism. Dr. Shei reminded us that the point of philosophical debates, instead of supplying the definitive truth, is to offer ways of deepening our deliberation on issues to a deeper level previously less explored. Over the years Raz has been carefully and diligently weaving his theses on a remarkably wide range of issues into a comprehensive framework, with beautiful and intricately-connected themes and variations within but toward a fundamental theory on the meaning of being individuals and collectives, as well as how to deal with issues arising therefrom. His theory on normative philosophy will stand the test of time, being one that any serious thinker in the generations to come has to engage with. In this sense, Raz is indeed one of the most acute, inventive, and energetic scholars currently working in analytical legal, moral and political theory, and it is fitting and admirable that he is so recognized by the 2018 Tang Prize in Rule of Law.