Jack Knight

Frederic Cleaveland Professor of Law and Political Science

External Address: 
Duke Law School 210 Science Dr, Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Law School Room 3010, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708-0204
(919) 613-8551
American Politics, Political Theory, Political Economy, Political Institutions

A renowned political scientist and legal theorist, Professor Knight's scholarly work focuses on modern social and political theory, law and legal theory, and political economy. He holds a joint appointment with Duke Law School and Duke's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches in the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Program. At the Law School, he teaches courses on social scientific approaches to law and courts, as well as courses on the political economy of social institutions. Professor Knight's research focuses on the rules and norms that organize human activities in nations. In addition to study of the motivations and decisions of judges, he has examined the effects of the norm of extensive prior judicial experience as a prerequisite for service on the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as several other aspects of how courts make decisions and how judges choose their positions in opinions. Professor Knight is the author of several books: Institutions and Social Conflict(Cambridge University Press, 1992), Explaining Social Institutions (with Itai Sened) (The University of Michigan Press, 1995), and The Choices Justices Make(with Lee Epstein) (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1997), which won the American Political Science Association's C. Herman Prichett Award for the best book published on law and courts. He co-edited Courts, Judges and Politics(McGraw-Hill, 6th Edition, 2005) and has published numerous articles in journals and edited volumes on such topics as democratic theory, the rule of law, judicial decision-making, and theories of institutional emergence and change. Prior to joining Duke Law in 2008, Professor Knight was the Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government at Washington University of St. Louis, where he served as chair of the Department of Political Science and was a fellow of the university's Center for Political Economy. He also has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan and was an attorney with the Peninsula Legal Aid Center in Hampton, Va. He has served as a visiting professor at the International Center for Business and Politics of the Copenhagen Business School and a visiting scholar with the Russell Sage Foundation and the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, Germany. Professor Knight holds a bachelor's degree and JD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA and a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. View Professor Knight's profile at the Political Science Department


  • Ph.D., University of Chicago 1989
  • M.A., University of Chicago 1980
  • J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1977
  • B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1974

Knight, J. Immigration, Emigration, and Migration. NYU Press, 2017. (Edited Book)

Knight, J, and Schwartzberg, M. Wealth. NYU Press, 2017. (Edited Book)

Knight, J. Compromise (Accepted). NYU Press, 2017. (Edited Book)

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. The Economic Analysis of Judicial Behavior. 2017.

Knight, J, and Johnson, J. The Priority of Democracy: Political consequences of pragmatism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, August 22, 2011.

Designing Democratic Government: Making Institutions Work. Ed. J Knight, M Levi, S Stokes, and J Johnson. New York: Russel Sage, 2008. (Edited Book)

Courts, Judges, and Politics. Ed. J Knight, CH Pritchett, W Murphy, and L Epstein. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, April 19, 2005.

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. The Choices Justices Make. Congressional Quarterly Press, 1998. (Monograph)

Knight, J, and Sened, I. Explaining Social Institutions. University of Michigan Press, 1995. (Edited Book)

Knight, J. Institutions and Social Conflict. Cambridge University Press, 1992. (Monograph)

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. "Strategic Accounts of Judging." Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior. Ed. K Randazzo and R Howard. New York: Routledge, 2016. (Chapter)

Warren, ME, Mansbridge, J, Bächtiger, A, Cameron, MA, Chambers, S, Ferejohn, J, Jacobs, A, Knight, J, Naurin, D, Schwartzberg, M, Tamir, Y, Thompson, D, and Williams, M. "Deliberative negotiation." Political Negotiation: A Handbook. January 1, 2016. 141-196.

Knight, J, Epstein, and L, . "Foreword." Walter Murphy's Elements of Judicial Strategy. Ed. Alan Childress. Quid Pro Books, Legal Legends Series, 2016. (Foreword)

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. "The Economic Analysis of Judicial Behavior." The Oxford Handbook on U.S. Judicial Behavior. Ed. L Epstein and S Lindquist. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. (Chapter)

Knight, J, Epstein, L, and Martin, A. "Some Ideas on How Political Scientists Can Develop Real-World Implications from Their Research (Without Becoming Policy Wonks or Law Professors)." Making Law and Courts Research Relevant: The Normative Implications of Empirical Research. Routledge, 2015. 14-26. (Chapter)

Knight, J, and Bagg, S. "Legitimacy." Encyclopedia of Political Thought. Ed. M Gibbons. Wiley-Blackwell, 2014. 2079-2090. (Chapter)

Knight, J. "Causal Mechanisms and Generalizations." Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice. Ed. C Mantzavinos. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Knight, J. "Comment causal mechanisms and generalizations." Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice. January 1, 2009. 179-184. Full Text

Knight, J. "Institutionalizing Toleration." Toleration on Trial. Ed. R Hardin, S Macedo, and I Creppell. Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007. (Chapter)

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. "Institutionalizing Constitutional Democracy: A Strategic Analysis of the Role of the Courts." Politics From Anarchy to Democracy. Stanford University Press, 2004. (Chapter)


Knight, J, Landemore, H, Urbinati, N, and Viehoff, D. "Roundtable on Epistemic Democracy and Its Critics." Critical Review 28.2 (April 2, 2016): 137-170. Full Text

Knight, J, Gulati, M, and Levi, D. "How Bayesian are Judges?." UNLV Law Review 16 (2016): 1061-1084.

Knight, J, and Johnson, J. "On Attempts to Gerrymander "Positive" and "Normative" Political Theory: Six Theses." Good Society 24.1 (2015): 30-48.

Knight, J. "The Imperative of Non-Ideal Theory." Political Studies Review 12.3 (2014): 361-368. (Review)

Knight, J, and Epstein, L. "Reconsidering Judicial Preferences." Annual Review of Political Science 16 (2013): 11-31.

Knight, J, Gulati, G, and Levi, D. "In the Absence of Scrutiny: Narratives of Probable Cause." (2013).

Gulati, M, and Knight, J. "Talking Judges." The Legal Workshop - Duke Law Journal 2010 (2010).

Knight, J. "Are Empiricists Asking the Right Questions about Judicial Decisionmaking?." Duke Law Journal 58 (2009): 1531-1556.

Knight, J, and Johnson, J. "On the Priority of Democracy: A Pragmatist Approach to Political-Economic Institutions and the Burden of Justification." The American political science review 101.1 (2007): 47-62.

Knight, J, and Johnson, J. "Assessing the boundaries of radical democracy." Gestion y Politica Publica 14.3 (July 29, 2005): 497-526.


Knight, J, and Epstein, L. "The New Institutionalism, Part II." Law & Courts Newsletter (1997). (Essay)

Knight, J. "Comments on Gutmann and Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement." The Good Society (1997). (Essay)

Knight, J. "Comments on Segal and Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model." Law & Courts Newsletter (1994). (Scholarly Commentary)