Prof. Joseph Raz, who won the 2018 Tang Prize in Rule of Law, passed away on May 2, 2022, aged 83. CEO of the Tang Prize Foundation Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern expressed his condolences and believes that Prof. Raz will forever be remembered for his passion for research and his image as a diligent scholar.
An internationally acclaimed legal philosopher, Prof. Raz had taught at Oxford University, Columbia University and King’s College London. He was one of the leading legal philosophers of our time and an intellectual of great stature. His influence in the fields of moral philosophy and political theory cannot be overstated. After learning that he had been awarded the Tang Prize in Rule of Law, he travelled to Taiwan in 2018 to attend the award ceremony and receive the medal.
Unlike legal professionals and advocates, Prof. Raz devoted his life to the exploration and analysis of legal principles and theories. He is the author of more than ten monographs, including The Authority of Law and The Morality of Freedom. All of them are definitive works on jurisprudence. Prof. Tzu-Yi Lin was head of the Institutum Iurisprudentiae at Academia Sinica and chair of the Selection Committee for Rule of Law when Prof. Raz won the Tang Prize. He pointed out that though Prof. Raz rarely commented on current affairs, it didn’t mean he was indifferent to them. Instead, he focused more on the exploration of theoretical issues, which is where his innovative contributions to the rule of law as well as his influence lie.
When visiting the Foundation in 2018, Prof. Raz wrote down his expectation for the Tang Prize: “May you continue in your efforts to inspire reflection, creativity invention, and their application to the enrichment of culture and the improvement of life on this planet.” This handwritten message has been preserved in the book, The Persevering Spirits: The 2018 Tang Prize Laureates, which also tells his life story for future generations to remember and admire this giant in legal philosophy.
Prof. Raz was very fond of photography, especially keen on documenting life with black-and-white photos. When he was in Taiwan during the 2018 Tang Prize Week, he took with him a camera wherever he went. In the tourist town Jiufen, his favorite place in Taiwan, he took many photos that have now become part of the precious items he left to the world.
To get a clearer understanding of Prof. Raz and his extraordinary life, go to https://youtu.be/H4qyQ3_ou0U to watch a documentary about him.