Dorfman is a professor of law at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law. He works in the theoretical foundations of law. He has written articles on various basic questions in private law theory and doctrine as well as on the morality of public ordering, including research on why privatization may sometimes be impermissible and on what might make political authority legitimate. In each of these studies, Dorfman focuses on the non-instrumental values that underlie key legal and political institutions. In that, his studies elaborate the non-contingent implications of the law for the possibility of establishing forms of valuable interactions between, and among, persons.
His work has appeared in Philosophy & Public Affairs, Columbia Law Review, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, University of Toronto Law Journal, Legal Theory, Law & Philosophy, Theoretical Inquiries in Law, American Journal of Jurisprudence, Modern Law Review, and more. Dorfman is currently working on three different book projects: a tort theory book titled Conflict between Equals: A Vindication of Tort Law; a private law theory book, with Hanoch Dagan, titled Relational Justice: A Theory of Private Law (forthcoming 2025, Oxford UP); and a legal theory book, with Alon Harel, titled Reclaiming the Public (forthcoming 2024, Cambridge UP).
Dorfman is a graduate of Yale Law School (J.S.D.) and Haifa University (LL.B. and B.A. in Economics). He was a law clerk for The Honorable Aharon Barak, the (then) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel and, more recently, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School.
Dorfman’s primary research and teaching interests include private law, the private/public distinction, and theories of political legitimation. Representative publications are:
- The Case Against Privatization, 41 Philosophy & Public Affairs 67 (2013) (w/ Alon Harel)
- Private Ownership and the Standing to Say So, 64 University of Toronto Law Journal 402 (2014)
- Private Law Exceptionalism? Part I: A Basic Difficulty with the Structural Arguments from Bipolarity and Civil Recourse, 35 Law & Philosophy 165 (2016)
- Just Relationships, 116 Columbia Law Review 1935 (2016) (w/ Hanoch Dagan)
- Negligence and Accommodation, 22 Legal Theory 77 (2016)
- Against Privatization As Such, 36 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 400 (2016) (w/ Alon Harel)
- Private Law Exceptionalism? Part II: A Basic Difficulty with the Argument from Formal Equality, 31 Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence 5 (2018)
- Substantive Remedies, 96 Notre Dame Law Review 513 (2020) (w/ Hanoch Dagan)
- Relational Justice and Torts, in Research Handbook on Private Law Theory 321 (Hanoch Dagan & Benjamin Zipursky eds., 2021)
- The Domain of Private Law, 71 University of Toronto Law Journal 207 (2021) (w/ Hanoch Dagan)
- Law as Standing, 4 Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law 93 (Leslie Green & Brian Leiter eds., vol. 4, 2021) (w/ Alon Harel)
- When, and How, does Property Matter?, 72 University of Toronto Law Journal 81 (2022)
- Poverty and Private Law: Beyond Distributive Justice (unpublished manuscript) (w/ Hanoch Dagan)