Duncan Kennedy (legal philosopher)

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Duncan Kennedy
Born 1942 (age 74–75)
Washington, D.C.
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Critical Theory
Main interests
Legal philosophy
Notable ideas
Critical Legal Studies movement

Duncan Kennedy (born 1942) is the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School and a founder of critical legal studies as movement and school of thought.

Education and early career[edit]

Kennedy received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1964 and then worked for two years in the CIA operation that controlled the National Student Association.[1] In 1966 he rejected his "cold war liberalism."[2] He quit the CIA[3] and in 1970 earned an LL.B. from Yale Law School. After completing a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Kennedy joined the Harvard Law School faculty, becoming a full professor in 1976. In March 2010 he received an Honoris Causa (honorary degree) Ph.D. title from the University of the Andes in Colombia.

Kennedy has been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union since 1967. According to his own testimony, he has never forgotten to pay his dues.[4]

Academic work and influence[edit]

In 1977, together with Karl Klare, Mark Kelman, Roberto Unger, and other scholars, Kennedy established the Critical Legal Studies movement. Outside legal academia, he is mostly known for his monograph Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy*[1], famous for its trenchant critique of American legal education.


  • A Critique of Adjudication [fin de siècle], (Harvard University Press, 1997)
  • Sexy Dressing, etc., (Harvard University Press, 1993)
  • "Freedom and Constraint in Adjudication: A Critical Phenomenology," 36 Journal of Legal Education 518 (1986)
  • "Form and Substance in Private Law Adjudication," 89 Harvard Law Review 1685 (1976)
  • "A Semiotics of Critique," 22 Cardozo Law Review 1147 (2001)
  • "Thoughts on Coherence, Social Values and National Tradition in Private Law," in Hesselink, ed., The Politics of a European Civil Code (Kluwer Law International, Amsterdam, 2006)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Duncan Kennedy, Symposium: Afterword, A Semiotics of Critique, 22 Cardozo L. Rev. 1147, 1166-67 (2001).
  2. ^ Id. at 1167.
  3. ^ Id.
  4. ^ Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School Lecture, "Globalization of Legal Ideas and Ideology," April 14, 2011.

External links[edit]