Jedediah Purdy

Jedediah S. Purdy is a senior correspondent of The American Prospect and a second-year student at Yale Law School. Purdy started with the Prospect as a writing fellow, writing about culture, technology, politics, and the environment. His 1998 articles include "Age of Irony" on a generation that refuses to take itself seriously, and "Dolly and Madison" on the ethics of cloning.

His first book, For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today, was published by Knopf in September 1999. His current research addresses agriculture, environmental sustainability, and the place of work in American culture. He has also been working on conceptions of human excellence in democratic politics. In 1999 he was a faculty member at the Century Institute Summer Program on America's liberal and progressive political traditions.

Purdy was born and raised on a hillside farm in central West Virginia. Until age 14, he taught himself by reading, exploring the local woods and meadows, and working alongside his parents and younger sister. After a checkered high school career that eventually took him to Phillips Exeter Academy, he returned to West Virginia, where he worked as a carpenter and spent a year in environmental politics.

In 1997 he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in social studies. In 1996 he was selected as a Truman Scholar and as West Virginia's nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship.

Recent Articles

The New Open Society

Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass Sunstein (Oxford University Press, 288 pages, $25.00)

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler (Yale University Press, 520 pages, $40.00)

Freedom's New Fight

Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity By Lawrence Lessig, The Penguin Press, 345 pages, $24.95

State of the Debate: Dolly and Madison

The cloning debate has highlighted moral questions that are likely only to become even more difficult as biotechnology advances: What should be the line between permissible and impermissible genetic interventions? Is our bedrock belief in human equality about to break down?



WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY

Arthur L. Caplan, Am I My Brother's Keeper? The Ethical Frontiers of Biomedicine (Indiana University Press, 1997).

Philip Kitcher, The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities (Touchstone Books, 1997).

Essay: The God of the Digerati

Wired magazine says with new technology we'll all be like gods and should get good at it. That apparently means feeling no restraint -- if something looks good, do it, buy it, invent it, become it. Where have we heard this before?

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