About Professor Julius Stone


Julius Stone was Challis Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Sydney from 1942 to 1972. He was, and is, recognised internationally as one of the premier legal theorists. His thinking, particularly in the areas of human rights and social justice, profoundly influenced generations of students who went on to make major contributions to the life and culture of Australia, on the Bench, in political life, and in the professions. He died in 1985.

Professor Stone was born on 7 July 1907 in Leeds, Yorkshire, the son of Lithuanian Jewish refugees, and was educated on scholarship at Oxford (BA, BCL, DCL), Leeds (LLM) and Harvard (SJD) Universities. The combination of British and American traditions marked his work throughout. He taught at Harvard, where he was associated with the great American jurist Roscoe Pound, and briefly at Leeds. He was Dean of Law at Auckland University College before being appointed to the University of Sydney Law School.

Professor Stone came to Sydney Law School to assume the Challis Chair in 1942. His appointment was wrapped in controversy driven by the perceived radicalism of his jurisprudential stance, the desire of some to keep the Chair open for candidates in the armed forces, and, it has often been suspected, Stone’s identity as a Jew. Nevertheless Stone was appointed, after a stormy debate waged in the newspapers and in Parliament, and punctuated by the resignations of the
Chancellor and two Fellows of the University Senate. Indeed, Stone’s appointment was crucial in the evolution of University governance, reinforcing the primacy of academic judgement, vested in the Academic Board, in appointments.

Thus Professor Stone embarked on his long career at Sydney Law School. His output was marked by rigorous research, and he built up a substantial research establishment in a new Department of Jurisprudence and International Law. He was a committed and inspirational teacher as well as being instrumental in founding the Sydney Law Review and the Australian Society for Legal Philosophy.

Professor Stone worked equally in international law and jurisprudence. On the jurisprudential side, he wrote many articles and a trilogy on jurisprudence. His most influential jurisprudential works were The Province and Function of Law (1946) and Precedent and Law: Dynamics of Common Law Growth (1985).

In these works, and indeed throughout his life, he was concerned with the context-bound nature of legal research, the openness of judicial interpretation and how principled means might be found by which judges should exercise their interpretative latitude. He drew heavily on sociology and on a concern for policy in adjudication. He argued strongly for a legal practice that would incorporate, as an integral part, concern for human rights and social justice.

His energy and commitment were equally evident outside the University. During the war, he served on two influential government committees dealing with morale and post-war reconstruction. He had a life-long commitment to Israel, argued through such works as Stand Up and Be Counted (1944). He was a frequent radio commentator on international affairs.

Professor Stone played a crucial role in transforming Australian legal education and has had an enormous influence on a generation of legal scholars and practitioners. He was very influential internationally, effective in, for example, advocating the ‘hot line’ that linked the leaders of the USA and USSR during the Cold War. The honours he received are too numerous to mention here, but he held long-term Visiting Professorships at Hastings College of Law in California and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Upon his retirement from Sydney Law School in 1972, Professor Stone moved to the University of New South Wales, where he spent a further decade of productive engagement. It was during that time that he wrote Precedent and Law, which was published posthumously in 1985.

Professor Stone’s legacy is very much alive in our commitment to rigour in scholarship, breadth and theory in legal education, and concern for human rights and social justice. Even though we may all differ over the answers, the questions Professor Stone was asking – about the role of judges, the significance of policy in judicial interpretation, the place of human rights in law – are still very much with us. Professor Stone’s own drive, the importance of the issues
with which he grappled, and at times the limitations of those around him meant that his career at Sydney Law School was not unmoved by controversy. Controversy often surrounds those who make things happen.

Professor Stone’s restless and inquiring spirit is perhaps best captured in a favourite quotation, from Rabbu Tarphon, cited by his biographer, Leonie Star:

‘It is not for you to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.’



International Guarantees of Minority Rights: Procedure of the Council of the League of Nations in Theory and Practice (1932)

Regional Guarantees of Minority Rights: A Study of Minorities Procedure in Upper Silesia (1933)

The Atlantic Charter: New Worlds for Old (1943)

“Stand Up and Be Counted!” An Open Letter to the Right Honourable Sir Isaac Isaacs PC, GCMGM, on the Occasional of the Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of the Jewish National Home (1944)

Recent Trends in English Precedent, with a Comparative Introduction on the Civil Law (1945)
The Province and Function of Law: Law as Logic, Justice and Social Control, A Study in Jurisprudence (1947; second edition, 1961)

Law and Society (1948-49)

Legal Controls of International Conflict: A Treatise on the Dynamics of Disputes- and War-Law (1954)

Aggression and World Order: A Critique of United Nations Theories of Aggression (1958)
Legal Education and Public Responsibility (1959)

The Eichmann Trial and the Rule of Law (1961)

Quest for Survival: The Role of Law and Foreign Policy (1961)

The International Court and World Crisis (1962)

The Legal System and Lawyers’ Reasonings (1964)

Human Law and Human Justice (1965)

Soviet Jewry (1965)

Social Dimensions of Law and Justice (1966)

Law and the Social Sciences in the Second Half Century (1966)

Research for Advancement of Peace: A Check-List of Programme Choices (1968)

Toward a Feasible International Criminal Court (1970)

Approaches to the Notion of International Justice (1970)

Self-Determination and the Palestinian Arabs (1970)

Of Law and Nations: Between Power Politics and Human Hopes (1974)

Conflict through Concensus: United Nations Approaches to Aggression (1977)

Israel and Palestine: An Assault on the Law of Nations (1981)

Visions of World Order: Between State Power and Human Justice (1984)

Precedent and Law: The Dynamics of Common Law Growth (1985)

Select Articles and Chapters

‘A Critique of Pound’s Theory of Justice’, Iowa Law Review 20 (1935), 531-50.

‘Theories of Law and Justice of Fascist Italy’, Modern Law Review 1 (1937), 177-202.

‘The Ratio of the Ratio Decidendi’, Modern Law Review 22 (1959), 597-620.

‘Legal Development and Trends of Thought in 20th Century England’, Sydney Law Review 3 (1959-61), 439-50.

‘“Reason” and the Time-Dimension of Knowledge’, Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozial-philosophie 48 (1962), 95-100.

‘Two Theories of “the Institution”’, R.A. Newman (Ed.), Essays in Jurisprudence in Honour of Roscoe Pound (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1962), 296-338.

‘The Golden Age of Pound’, Sydney Law Review 4 (1962), 1-27.

‘“The Nature of Things” On the Way to Positivism?’, Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozial-philosophie 50 (1964), 145-68.

‘Roscoe Pound and Sociological Jurisprudence’, Harvard Law Review 78 (1965), 1578-84.

‘Introduction to Symposium on Lawyer-Centred Jurisprudence’, University of Florida Law Review 19 (1966-67), 395-403.

‘Western Philosophy of Law’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., Macropaedia vol.10 (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975), 715-22.

‘Law-as-Action and Integrative Jurisprudence’, Hastings Law Journal 26 (1975), 1331-46.

‘Justice in the Slough of Equality’, Hastings Law Journal 29 (1978), 995-1024. [Reprinted as ‘Justice Not Equality’ in E. Kamenka and A. E-S Tay (Eds), Justice (London: Edward Arnold, 1979), 97-115; as ‘Equal Protection in the Search for Justice’, Arizona Law Review 22 (1980), 1-17.]

‘Trends in Jurisprudence in the Second Half Century’, Barbara Drexler Hathaway et al., Julius Stone: A Bio-Bibliography (Austin: University of Texas Tarlton Law Library, 1980), 16-51.

‘Natural Law and the Human Predicament in the Age of Technology’, Rechtphilosophische Mitteilungen 2 (1983), 1-19.

A collection of essays in honour of Professor Stone, introduced by Sir Zelman Cowan and edited by A.R. Blackshield, appeared in 1983, Legal Change: Essays in Honour of Julius Stone. In 1986, a Julius Stone Memorial Issue of the University of New South Wales Law Journal was published.

The main biography of Professor Stone is Leonie Star’s Julius Stone: An Intellectual Life (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992). Barbara Drexler Hathaway’s Julius Stone : a Bio-Bibliography (Austin: Tarlton Law Library, 1980) lists his publications to 1980 in full and includes the text of his 1967 speech to the University of Texas Law School, ‘Trends in Jurisprudence in the Second Half Century’. There is also a short section about Professor Stone in Rudolph Brasch’s
Australian Jews of Today and the Part They Have Played (Stanmore: Cassell Australia, 1977).


The full impact of Julius Stone’s teaching is now being felt. Generations of his students, now in judicial and other positions, are reflecting every day his harmonious mixture of legal realism and firm dedication to legal principle.
The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC, CMG, High Court of Australia

Julius Stone was quite the best university lecturer I ever heard. His paragraphs had punctuation and his sentences had verbs; and he communicated a high degree of zest and enthusiasm.
The Hon. Gordon Samuels AC, former Governor of New South Wales

He’s the only one who got it right, in my view – down to earth, humane, realistic, brilliant.
The Hon. Justice Rosalie S. Abella, Court of Appeal for Ontario

As a law student I had the good fortune to come under the influence of Julius Stone. It was a profound, inspiring and lifelong influence. I am glad to be able to say thank you to Julius by joining in this tribute to his lasting contribution to Jurisprudence and International Law in nations where the rule of law holds sway.
The Hon. Sir Laurence Street AC, KCMG

In establishing the Sydney Law Review, Stone made a major contribution to Australia’s legal culture. He worked generously with student editors, sharing his vision and his craft.
The Hon. Justice Bryan Beaumont, Federal Court of Australia

Professor Stone embodied and exemplified a life of thought that thrived in constant dialogue between and across generations. And for him doing jurisprudence was never an insular dialogic enterprise within the Euroamerican tradition.
Professor Upendra Baxi, Professor of Law, University of Warwick

Julius Stone was a lion of international jurisprudence, his influence as a theorist and innovator felt by generations of students and scholars. Reading Stone’s many contributions to the sociological interpretation of international law has been an inspiration...
Professor David Kennedy, Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School