CAP en EspaƱol
Small CAP Banner

Jedediah Purdy

Affiliated Scholar

Jedediah Purdy is an assistant professor at Duke Law School. He is the author of Being America: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World (Knopf 2003) and For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today (Knopf 1999) and the editor of Democratic Vistas: Reflections on the Life of American Democracy (Yale UP 2004).

His research concentrates on the role of public values in economic life, particularly the reform of property regimes. He also writes on legal and intellectual history, the theory and practice of imperialism, the role of method in legal scholarship, and the political implications of demographic change. His scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Chicago Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and California Law Review, among others.

He has written in The New York Times op-ed page and book review, The American Prospect, The Atlantic Monthly, Die Zeit (Germany), El Pais (Spain) and Prospect (UK), among others, and has contributed commentary to Morning Edition. He has been profiled in The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Time, among others, and was named one of the country’s "Best and Brightest" young people by Esquire in 2003 and a (with a hint of irony) a "hipster celebrity" by Harper’s in 2006.

A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he has been a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and at the New America Foundation, where he retains an affiliation. He is a contributing editor at the American Prospect and a member of the American Constitution Society working group on constitutional change and interpretation. In 2006-07 he was a fellow in the Program in Ethics and the Professions at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Major Works:


  • Purdy, Jedediah ed. Democratic Vistas: Reflections on the Life of American Democracy. Yale University Press, 2004.
  • Being America: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World. Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2003.
  • For Common Things: Irony, Trust and Commitment in America Today. Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.


  • "People as Property: On Being a Resource and a Person," forthcoming in Duke Law Journal (2006)
  • "Property and Empire: Conquest, Expropriation, and the Law of Colonialism," forthcoming in George Washington Law Review (2006)
  • "The New Biopolitics: Demography, Autonomy, and Nationhood," forthcoming in Brigham Young University Law Review (2006)
  • "The Private-Law Origins of Sovereign Power: Trusteeship, Agency, and Wardship" (with Kimberly Fielding), forthcoming in Law & Contemporary Problems (2006)
  • "The Promise (and Limits) of Neuroeconomics," forthcoming in Alabama Law Review (2006)
  • "Completing the Civilizing Argument" (Comment on Carol Rose’s 2005 Childress Lecture), forthcoming in St. Louis University Law Review (2006)
  • "The American Transformation of Waste Doctrine: A Pluralist Interpretation," 91 Cornell Law Review 563 (2006)
  • "The Limits of Courage and Principle" (review of Michael Ignatieff’s The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror), forthcoming in Michigan Law Review (2006)

Appearances: NPR