Power is clearly a crucial concept for feminist theory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression.In The Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group of theorists of power, including (...) Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power. (shrink)
This paper examines Young’s conception of power, arguing that it is incomplete, in at least two ways. First, Young tends to equate the term power with the narrower notions of ‘oppression’ and ‘domination’. Thus, Young lacks a satisfactory analysis of individual and collective empowerment. Second, as Young herself admits, it is not obvious that her analysis of power can be useful in the context of thinking about transnational justice. Allen concludes by considering one way in which Young’s analysis of (...) power needs to be extended or perhaps modified in order to do justice to questions of transnational justice. (shrink)
Introducing the sixth and final installment of the Common Knowledge symposium “Apology for Quietism,” Allen looks at the symposium retrospectively and concludes that it has mainly concerned “sage knowledge,” defined as foresight into the development of situations. The sagacious knower sees the disposition of things in an early, incipient form and knows how to intervene with nearly effortless and undetectable (quiet) effectiveness. Whatever the circumstance, the sage handles it with finesse, never doing too much but also never leaving anything (...) undone that must be accomplished. Quiet, when it is knowingly and effectively quiet (not pusillanimous or poor in spirit), is about what not to do, how not to approach a problem, what not to decide, what is not known, what will not work. Allen explains these principles in terms of traditional Chinese thought, Daoist and Confucian: wei we wei, or “doing-not-doing,” means effective inaction. What makes such wisdom possible is not mystical insight, he argues, but discipline in a certain kind of art. The sage has no need of reasons (let alone doctrines), only effectiveness; and he does not need truth or justice, only subtlety. The detachment of a quietist has little, if anything, to do with transcending perspectives. Detachment is good as a means to flexibility, and instead of transcending perspectives, a sage is skilled in the quiet art of never getting stuck in one. To be effectively quiet is not so much to be silent as to be inaudible, invisible; the sage “vanishes into things.”. (shrink)
This study explores the impact of environmental turbulence on relationships between personal and organizational characteristics, personal values, ethical perceptions, and behavioral intentions. A causal model is tested using data obtained from a national sample of marketing research professionals in South Africa. The findings suggest turbulent conditions lead professionals to report stronger values and ethical norms, but less ethical behavioral intentions. Implications are drawn for organizations confronting growing turbulence in their external environments. A number of suggestions are made for ongoing research.
The author argues for bringing the work of Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt into dialogue with respect to the links between power, subjectivity, and agency.Although one might assume that Foucault and Arendt come from such radically different philosophical starting points that such a dialogue would be impossible, the author argues that there is actually a good deal of common ground to be found between these two thinkers. Moreover, the author suggests that Foucault's and Arendt's divergent views about the role that (...) power plays in the constitution of subjectivity and agency should be seen as complementary rather than opposed. (shrink)
A significant ontological commitment is required to sustain metaphysical realism—the view that there is a single, objective way the world is—in order to defend it from common sense objections. This involves presupposing the existence of properties (or tropes, or universals) and relations between them which define the objective structure of the world. This paper explores the grounds for accepting this ontological assumption and examines a sceptical argument which questions whether, having assumed the world is objectively divided into fundamental properties, we (...) could ever know which properties these are. It then assesses the responses available to the metaphysical realist, arguing that the sceptical difficulty cannot merely be dismissed by means of another assumption in the manner of radical scepticism, as David Lewis suggests, but that the sceptic's argument might be defused by the non-question-begging success of some form of strong scientific realism which links the predicates of our scientific theories directly to the fundamental properties the world contains. It remains unclear however whether this widely accepted metaphysical theory can find principled philosophical support. (shrink)
The centerpiece of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality is the analysis of what Foucault terms the “repressive hypothesis,” the nearly universal assumption on the part of twentieth-century Westerners that we are the heirs to a Victorian legacy of sexual repression. The supreme irony of this belief, according to Foucault, is that the whole time that we have been announcing and denouncing our repressed, Victorian sexuality, discourses about sexuality have actually proliferated. Paradoxically, as Victorian as we allegedly (...) are, we cannot stop talking about sex. Much of the analysis of the first volume of the History of Sexuality consists in an unmasking and debunking of the repressive hypothesis. This unmasking does not take the simple form of a counter-claim that we are not, in fact, repressed; rather, Foucault contends that understanding sexuality solely or even primarily in terms of repression is inaccurate and misleading. As he said in an interview published in 1983, “it is not a question of denying the existence of repression. It’s one of showing that repression is always a part of a much more complex political strategy regarding sexuality. Things are not merely repressed.”1 Foucault makes this extremely clear in the introduction to the History of Sexuality, Volume 1, when he writes. (shrink)
Judith Butler's recent work expands the Foucaultian notion of subjection to encompass an analysis of the ways in which subordinated individuals becomes passionately attached to, and thus come to be psychically invested in, their own subordination. I argue that Butler's psychoanalytically grounded account of subjection offers a compelling diagnosis of how and why an attachment to oppressive norms – of femininity, for example – can persist in the face of rational critique of those norms. However, I also argue that her (...) account of individual and collective resistance to subjection is plagued by familiar problems concerning the normative criteria and motivation for resistance that emerge in her recent work in new and arguably more intractable forms, and by new concerns about her conceptions of dependency, subordination and recognition. (shrink)
This paper argues that Hannah Arendt's political theory offers key insights into the power that binds together the feminist movement - the power of solidarity. Second-wave feminist notions of solidarity were grounded in notions of shared identity; in recent years, as such conceptions of shared identity have come under attack for being exclusionary and repressive, feminists have been urged to give up the idea of solidarity altogether. However, the choice between (repressive) identity and (fragmented) non-identity is a false opposition, and (...) the Arendtian account of solidarity developed here allows us to move beyond this opposition. Thus, Arendt provides us with a model of solidarity that can stand a post-identity politics feminist theory in good stead. Key Words: Hannah Arendt feminist theory identity politics power solidarity. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that Quine's principal argument for the Indeterminacy of Translation requires an untenably strong account of the underdetermination of theories by evidence, namely that that two theories may be compatible with all possible evidence for them and yet incompatible with each other. In this article, I argue that Quine's conclusion that translation is indeterminate can be based upon the weaker, uncontroversial conception of theoretical underdetermination, in conjunction with a weak reading of the 'Gavagai' argument which establishes the (...) underdetermination of the sense and reference of subsentential terms. If underdetermination is considered to be a widespread phenomenon in science, or in inductive reasoning more generally, then the Indeterminacy of Translation will be widespread too. Finally, I briefly consider two issues concerning the scope of this conclusion about the Indeterminacy of Translation: first, whether the argument presupposes behaviourism; and second, whether indeterminacy is restricted to the case of radical translation. I argue that the answer to both these questions is negative, and thus that the thesis of semantic indeterminacy remains relevant to those who disagree with Quine about some issues concerning the nature of mind and language. (shrink)
When it was at its height, the feminist pornography debate tended to generate more heat than light. Only now that there has been a cease fire in the sex war does it seem possible to reflect on the debate in a more productive way and to address some of the questions that were left unresolved by it. In this paper, I shall argue that one of the major unresolved questions is that of how feminists should conceptualize power. The antipornography feminists (...) and the feminist sex radicals presuppose radically different conceptions of power, and this fact helps to explain why they come to such different conclusions about what, if anything, should be done about pornography. The feminist pornography debate remains unresolved precisely because it is unresolvable in the terms in which it has been posed. I shall contend that the conceptions of power presupposed on both sides of the debate are incomplete, and, therefore, inadequate.4 My hope is that once we recognize this, we might be able to improve not only the way that feminists analyze pornography but also the way we conceptualize power. (shrink)
In a late discussion of Kant’s essay, “Was ist Aufklärung?,” Foucault credits Kant with posing “the question of his own present” and positions himself as an inheritor of this Kantian legacy.1 Foucault has high praise for the critical tradition that emerges from Kant’s historical-political reflections on the Enlightenment and the French Revolution; Kant’s concern in these writings with “an ontology of the present, an ontology of ourselves” is, he says, characteristic of “a form of philosophy, from Hegel, through Nietzsche and (...) Max Weber, to the Frankfurt School,” a form of philosophy in which Foucault, perhaps surprisingly, situates his own work. (shrink)
Introduction : the politics of our selves -- Foucault, subjectivity, and the enlightenment : a critical reappraisal -- The impurity of practical reason : power and autonomy in Foucault -- Dependency, subordination, and recognition : Butler on subjection -- Empowering the lifeworld? autonomy and power in Habermas -- Contextualizing critical theory -- Engendering critical theory.
Although Judith Butler’s theory of the performativity of gender has been highly influential in feminist theory, queer theory, cultural studies, and some areas of philosophy, it has yet to receive its due from critical social theorists.1 This oversight is especially problematic given the crucial insights into the study of power – a central concept for critical social theory – that can be gleaned from Butler’s work. Her analysis is somewhat unique among discussions of power in its attempt to theorize simultaneously (...) both the features of cultural domination in contemporary societies and the possibilities of resistance to and subversion of such domination. Although I will maintain here that this attempt is not entirely successful, I nevertheless argue that Butler’s account makes crucial contributions to a feminist critical theory of power; as a result, it merits much more serious attention from critical theorists. (shrink)
As the above quote clearly highlights, it is the responsibility of researchers and research supervisors to be certain that their research staff and students assistants are very familiar with all of the ethical principles and current standards relevant to the research they are conducting. Indeed, they must take an active role in being certain that their research staff and students complete appropriate training in these ethical principles and standards, and how they apply them to the research context in which they (...) are working. This is especially important in areas in which there may be physical harm such as chronic pain research. (shrink)
This paper argues that feminists have yet to develop a satisfactory account of power. Existing feminist accounts of power tend to have a one-sided emphasis either on power as domination or on power as empowerment. This conceptual one-sided-ness must be overcome if feminists are to develop an account complex enough to illuminate women's diverse experiences with power. Such an account is sketched here.