Jack Knight

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., and M. Schwartzberg. Privatization. NYU Press, 2019.

Knight, J. Compromise. NYU Press, 2018.

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

Knight, J. Immigration, Emigration, and Migration. NYU Press, 2017.

Knight, J., and M. Schwartzberg. Wealth. NYU Press, 2017.

Knight, J., and J. Johnson. The Priority of Democracy: Political consequences of pragmatism. Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 1–324.

Knight, J., et al., editors. Designing Democratic Government: Making Institutions Work. Russel Sage, 2008.

Knight, J., et al., editors. Courts, Judges, and Politics. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2005.

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

Knight, J., and I. Sened. Explaining Social Institutions. University of Michigan Press, 1995.


Knight, J. “Book Review: Collective Action by Todd Sandler.” American Political Science Review, vol. 87, no. 3, 1993, pp. 776–77.

Knight, J. “Book Review: Free Markets and Social Justice by Cass Sunstein.” Law & Politics Book Review, vol. 2, no. 4, 1992, pp. 62–65.

Knight, J. “Book Review: Social Norms and Economic Institutions by Kenneth Koford and Jeffrey Miller.” The American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press (CUP): HSS Journals, 1992, pp. 1063–64.

Knight, J. “Book Review: The Economic Structure of Corporate Law by Frank Easterbrook and Daniel Fischel.” The Law and Political Science Review, vol. 2, 1992, pp. 62–65.

Knight, J. “Book Review: Max Weber by Anthony Kronman.” Ethics, vol. 95, no. 3, 1985, pp. 756–57.

Knight, J. “Book Review: Weber, the Ideal Type and Contemporary Social Theory by Susan Heckman.” Ethics, vol. 95, Cambridge University Press (CUP): HSS Journals, 1985, pp. 393–393.

Knight, J. “Book Review: The Sociology of the State by Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum.” Ethics, vol. 95, 1985, pp. 390–390.

Knight, J. “Book Review: In Search of the Spirit of Capitalism by Gordon Marshall.” Ethics, vol. 94, 1984, pp. 556–556.

Knight, J. “Book Review: Capitalist Democracy in Britain by Ralph Miliband.” Ethics, vol. 94, 1984, pp. 564–564.


Warren, ME, Bächtiger, A, Cameron, MA, Chambers, S, Ferejohn, J, Jacobs, A, Knight, J, Naurin, D, Schwartzberg, M, Tamir, Y, Thompson, DF, and Williams, M. ""Deliberative negotiation" (2014)." Jane Mansbridge: Participation, Deliberation, Legitimate Coercion. June 15, 2018. 208-214. Full Text

Warren, M. E., et al. “Deliberative negotiation.” Political Negotiation: A Handbook, 2016, pp. 141–96.

Knight, J., and L. Epstein. “The Economic Analysis of Judicial Behavior.” The Oxford Handbook on U.S. Judicial Behavior, edited by L. Epstein and S. Lindquist, Oxford University Press, 2016.

Knight, J., and L. Epstein. “Strategic Accounts of Judging.” Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior, edited by K. Randazzo and R. Howard, Routledge, 2016.

Mudimbe, V. Y. Foreword. 2015, pp. xiii–xv.

Knight, J., et al. “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, pp. 14–26.

Knight, J., and S. Bagg. “Legitimacy.” Encyclopedia of Political Thought, edited by M. Gibbons, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, pp. 2079–90.

Knight, J. “Comment causal mechanisms and generalizations.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, 2009, pp. 179–84. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511812880.015. Full Text

Knight, Jack. “Causal Mechanisms and Generalizations.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, edited by Chris Mantzavinos, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Knight, J. “Institutionalizing Toleration.” Toleration on Trial, edited by R. Hardin et al., Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007.


Knight, J., and M. Gulati. “Talking Judges.” Duke Law Journal Online, vol. 67, 2018.

Knight, J., et al. “How Bayesian are Judges?.” Unlv Law Review, vol. 16, 2016, pp. 1061–84.

Knight, J., et al. “Roundtable on Epistemic Democracy and Its Critics.” Critical Review, vol. 28, no. 2, 2016, pp. 137–70.

Knight, J., and J. Johnson. “On Attempts to Gerrymander "Positive" and "Normative" Political Theory: Six Theses.” Good Society, vol. 24, no. 1, 2015, pp. 30–48.

Knight, J. “The Imperative of Non-Ideal Theory.” Political Studies Review, vol. 12, no. 3, 2014, pp. 361–68.

Knight, J., and L. Epstein. “Reconsidering Judicial Preferences.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 16, 2013, pp. 11–31.

Gulati, M., and J. Knight. “Talking Judges.” The Legal Workshop  Duke Law Journal, vol. 2010, 2010.

Knight, J. “Are Empiricists Asking the Right Questions about Judicial Decisionmaking?.” Duke Law Journal, vol. 58, 2009, pp. 1531–56.

Knight, J., and J. Johnson. “On the Priority of Democracy: A Pragmatist Approach to Political-Economic Institutions and the Burden of Justification.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 101, no. 1, Cambridge University Press (CUP): HSS Journals, 2007, pp. 47–62.


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

Knight, J., and L. Epstein. “The New Institutionalism, Part II.” Law & Courts Newsletter, 1997.

Knight, J. “Comments on Gutmann and Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement.” The Good Society, 1997.

Knight, J. “Comments on Segal and Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model.” Law & Courts Newsletter, 1994.