Morris Raphael Cohen came to the United States from Russia in 1892. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard in 1906, Cohen taught philosophy at the City College of New York from 1912 until 1938, when he retired to devote the rest of his life to writing.
A disciple of Justice OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, Cohen rejected the conventional belief that judges decide cases by mechanical application of independently existing legal rules; he argued that the process of judicial lawmaking should be guided by the scientific method, a thorough understanding of the social consequences of judicial decisions, and a hierarchical set of social values. Believing natural law to be the measure of justice and advocating the philosophical analysis of legal systems, Cohen attacked such proponents of LEGAL REALISM as JEROME FRANK and THURMAN ARNOLD for their refusal to recognize any external standard by which positive law could be criticized. Cohen's legal writings are collected in Law and the Social Order (1933) and Reason and Law (1950).
RICHARD B. BERNSTEIN