Other books byJedediah Purdy
A Tolerable Anarchy
Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of...
In A Tolerable Anarchy, Jedediah Purdy traces the history of the American understanding of freedom, an ideal that has inspired the country’s best—and worst—moments, from independence and emancipation to war and economic uncertainty. Working from portraits of famous American lives, like Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Purdy asks crucial questions about our relationship to liberty: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God’s word, or one’s own heart? Can a nation of individuals also be a community of citizens? This is history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging readers to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and a provocative look at one of America’s cherished principles.
For Common Things
Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
Jedediah Purdy calls For Common Things his "letter of love for the world's possibilities." Indeed, these pages--which have already garnered a flurry of attention among readers and in the media--constitute a passionate and persuasive testament to the value of political, social, and community reengagement. Drawing on a wide range of literary and cultural influences--from the writings of Montaigne and Thoreau to the recent popularity of empty entertainment and breathless chroniclers of the technological age--Purdy raises potent questions about our stewardship of civic values. Most important, Purdy offers us an engaging, honest, and bracing reminder of what is crucial to the healing and betterment of society, and impels us to consider all that we hold in common. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Meaning of Property
Freedom, Community, and the Legal Imagination
In his latest book, Jedediah Purdy takes up a question of deep and lasting importance: why is property ownership a value to society? His answer returns us to the foundations of American society and enables us to interpret the writings of the patron saint of liberal economics, Adam Smith, in a wholly new light. Unlike Milton Friedman and other free-market scholars, who consider property a key to efficient markets, Purdy draws upon Smith’s theories to argue that the virtues of wealth are social rather than economic. In Purdy’s view, ownership does much more than shield one from government interference. Property shapes social life in ways that bring us closer to, or take us farther from, the ideal of a community of free and equal members. This view of property is neither libertarian nor communitarian but treats the community as the precondition of individual freedom. This view informed U.S. law in the early days of the republic, Purdy writes, and it is one that we need to restore today. Touching upon some of the most charged issues in American politics and law, including slavery, inheritance, international development, and climate change, The Meaning of Property offers a compelling new view of property and freedom and enriches our understanding of democratic society.
Reflections on the Life of American Democracy
In this thought-provoking collection, leading scholars explore democracy in the United States from a sweeping variety of perspectives. A dozen contributors consider the nature and prospects of democracy as it relates to the American experiencefree markets, religion, family life, the Cold War, higher education, and more. These probing essays bring American democracy into fresh focus, complete with its idealism, its moral greatness, its disappointments, and its contradictions. Based on DeVane lectures delivered at Yale University, these writings examine large themes and ask important questions: Why do democratic societies, and the United States in particular, tolerate profound economic inequality? Has the United States ever been truly democratic? How has democratic aspiration influenced the development of practices as diverse as education, religious worship, and family life? With deep insights and lively discussion, the authors expand our understanding of what democracy has meant in the past, how it functions now, and what its course may be in the future.