Professor David Dyzenhaus


University Professors 2015

Faculty of Law and Faculty of Arts & Science, Department of Philosophy
Research Interests:
The rule of law in legal and political philosophy


Professor David Dyzenhaus was born in South Africa and educated at the University of Witwatersrand, where he received his B.A. and his LL.B. He then completed a D.Phil. at Oxford (1988), where his research focused on positivism and anti-positivism in legal theory.

He came to Canada to take up a position at the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University, where he was a Canada Research Fellow from 1989-90. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto in 1990; promoted to Associate Professor in 1993 and Professor in 1998. For eight years, from 2002-2010, he served as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Law.

Professor Dyzenhaus served as Book Review Editor of the University of Toronto Law Journal from 1995-2000, and as Editor from 2012 to present. He is currently the co-editor (with Adam Tomkins) of Cambridge University Press’s Series in Constitutional Law.

Dyzenhaus’s first book, Hard Cases in Wicked Legal Systems: South African Law in the Perspective of Legal Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1991; 2nd and revised edition, 2010) explores neglected legal resources that were available to judges to confront injustice in apartheid-era in South Africa.

In 1992, he was awarded a Humboldt Fellowship that enabled him to spend a year at the University of Heidelberg. The outcome of this research was his second book, Legality and Legitimacy: Carl Schmitt, Hans Kelsen and Hermann Heller in Weimar (Oxford University Press, 1997), a critical examination of the German debate over the relations between law, the state, and power in late Weimar.

His work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa in 1997 led to the publication of Judging the Judges, Judging Ourselves: Truth, Reconciliation and the Apartheid Legal Order (Hart, 1998).

Dyzenhaus’s The Constitution of Law: Legality in a Time of Emergency (Cambridge University Press, 2006) is a wide-ranging account of the role of law in times of great political stress and of how the law can respond to external and internal threats without sacrificing the ideal of the rule of law.

In addition to these four books, Dyzenhaus has published over 100 articles in academic journals and edited collections. He is also the editor or co-editor of ten collections of essays.

Professor Dyzenhaus has been a visiting scholar at Clare Hall, Cambridge University (1998); the University of Auckland, where he was a Law Foundation Fellow (2002); the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, where he was Herbert Smith Visiting Fellow (2006) and a visiting scholar, Pembroke College; and the Faculty of Law, New York University (2008, 2013), where he was a Global Visiting Professor. In 2014-15, he is the Arthur Goodhart Visiting Professor of Legal Science at the University of Cambridge and a visiting scholar, Pembrroke College. He has been elected to a Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, for the 2016-17 academic year. In 1999, Dyzenhaus was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.