The pursuit of happiness is a long-enshrined tradition that has recently become the cornerstone of the American Positive Psychology movement. However, “happiness” is an over-worked and ambiguous word, which, it is argued, should be restricted and only used as the label for a brief emotional state that typically lasts a few seconds or minutes. The corollary proposal for positive psychology is that optimism is a preferable stance over pessimism or realism. Examples are presented both from psychology and economics that illustrate (...) the dangers of optimism, and in which better outcomes can occur with a pessimistic stance. A more sophisticated approach is then presented in which, in relation to well-being and quality of life, neither optimism nor pessimism is seen as inherently better than the other, but, rather, in which psychological flexibility may contribute optimally to health and well-being. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Nietzsche’s published works contain a substantial, although implicit, argument for the will to power as ontology—a critical and descriptive, rather than positive and explanatory, theory of reality. Further, I suggest this ontology is entirely consistent with a naturalist methodology. The will to power ontology follows directly from Nietzsche’s naturalist rejection of three metaphysical presuppositions: substance, efficient causality, and final causality. I show that a number of interpretations, including those of Clark, Schacht, Reginster, (...) and Richardson, are inconsistent with Nietzsche’s naturalism, because they presuppose efficient or final causality. In contrast, I argue that the will to power is not an explanatory theory, but a description of the basic, necessary character of reality, designed to critically reveal and minimize metaphysical presuppositions—to reject false explanations of reality and human behavior. It avoids substance-metaphysics by describing reality as will, a causal process without discrete efficient causes or agents. It eliminates efficient causality by describing events as maximal manifestations of power, rather than as agent-actualized potentialities. Finally, it opposes teleology by describing life as tending toward the activity of resistance as such, rather than toward explanatory end-states, such as the accumulation of power or overcoming of resistances. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Nietzsche’s rejection of egalitarianism depends on equivocation between distinct conceptions of power and equality. When these distinct views are disentangled, Nietzsche’s arguments succeed only against a narrow sense of equality as qualitative similarity (die Gleichheit as die Ähnlichkeit), and not against quantitative forms that promote equality not as similarity but as multiple, proportional resistances (die Gleichheit as die Veilheit and der Widerstand). I begin by distinguishing the two conceptions of power at play (...) in Nietzsche’s arguments, power as quantitative superiority of ability and as qualitative feeling of power (das Gefühl der Macht), an affective state that does not directly correlate with quantitative ability and, because based in resistance (der Widerstand), requires relative equality as its condition. Nietzsche presents four principal arguments against egalitarianism, each concluding that equality harms the flourishing of humanity’s highest individuals. First, equality directly promotes qualitative similarity (die Ähnlichkeit) at the expense of multiplicity (die Vielheit). Second, because material inequalities ground the “pathos of distance” (the recognition of spiritual inequality), equality indirectly undermines the desire for self-development. Third, because it opposes aristocratic conditions, egalitarianism promotes a form of liberalism that removes conditions of constraint necessary to human development. Finally, equality is a less efficient means to human enhancement, which is best promoted through unequal distribution of resources to the most able individuals. I argue that in each case Nietzsche’s argument succeeds only if interpreted according to the quantitative conception of power as superiority, but fails when we also consider the qualitative conception of power as feeling. For the promotion of an individual’s qualitative power is compatible with quantitative power equality. Moreover, because power is felt only in resistance, the feeling of power requires relative equality as its precondition—an alternate sense of equality construed, not as qualitative similarity, but as quantitative resistance from proportional counter-powers. I conclude that Nietzsche’s commitment to the promotion of humanity’s highest individuals does not entail the rejection of moral egalitarianism in every form and even supports certain forms. (shrink)
There is no consensus as to whether a Liar sentence is meaningful or not. Still, a widespread conviction with respect to Liar sentences (and other ungrounded sentences) is that, whether or not they are meaningful, they are useless . The philosophical contribution of this paper is to put this conviction into question. Using the framework of assertoric semantics , which is a semantic valuation method for languages of self-referential truth that has been developed by the author, we show that certain (...) computational problems, called query structures , can be solved more efficiently by an agent who has self-referential resources (amongst which are Liar sentences) than by an agent who has only classical resources; we establish the computational power of self-referential truth . The paper concludes with some thoughts on the implications of the established result for deflationary accounts of truth. (shrink)
Peter Morriss discusses the notion of 'power' and attempts to show how recent accounts of power have misinterpreted crucial components, thereby producing faulty analyses. He puts the study of power into a modern context and also explains why an understanding of power is so important in developing a radical critique of a society. The revised second edition includes a new foreword.
Recent debates in contemporary feminist theory have been dominated by the relation between identity and politics. Beyond Identity Politics examines the implications of recent theorizing on difference, identity and subjectivity for theories of patriarchy and feminist politics. Organised around the three central themes of subjectivity, power and politics, this book focuses on a question which feminists struggled with and were divided by throughout the last decade, that is: how to theorize the relation between the subject and politics. In this (...) thoughtful engagement with these debates Moya Lloyd argues that the turn to the subject in process does not entail the demise of feminist politics as many feminists have argued. She demonstrates how key ideas such as agency, power and domination take on a new shape as a consequence of this radical rethinking of the subject-politics relation and how the role of feminist political theory becomes centred upon critique. A resource for feminist theorists, women's and gender studies students, as well as political and social theorists, this is a carefully composed and wide-ranging text, which provides important insights into one of contemporary feminism's most central concerns. (shrink)
The paper argues that it is a mistake to interpret Thomas Reid as holding a libertarian notion of freedom, and to make use of Reid to argue in support of a libertarian position. More precisely, this paper shows that Reid’s theory of agent-causation may not be what these philosophers take it to be, once such crucial notions as agent-causation and active power in Reid’s theory of free agency have been fully explicated. Reid is more committed to accepting the view (...) of freedom as rational self-control over the determination of the will than a contracausal view of freedom. (shrink)
The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be 'internalized' by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience. To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to (...) claim that there is a fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that 'turns against itself' is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as 'internalized'. Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power. (shrink)
This comment argues for the importance of global institutions to regulate nuclear power. Nuclear power presents challenges across national borders irrespective of whether plants are maintained safely. There are international agreements in place on the disposal of nuclear waste, an issue of great concern in terms of environmental and health effects for any nuclear power policy. However, there remains a pressing need for an international agreement to ensure the safe maintenance of nuclear facilities. Safe nuclear power (...) beyond waste disposal should receive more attention. Nuclear power policy is often a matter of pure state interest with national governments alone responsible for regulating the safe maintenance of nuclear facilities. It ought not be left to national governments alone to regulate the safe administration of nuclear power given the many threats to environmental safety and public health. This comment argues that global institutions may best address this problem. The comment concludes with recommendations on how nuclear power policy might be regulated. (shrink)
In a recent article, Arthur Applbaum contributes a new view—legitimacy as a moral power—to the debate over the concept of political legitimacy. Applbaum rejects competing views of legitimacy, in particular legitimacy as a claim-right to have the law obeyed, for mistakenly invoking substantive moral argument in the conceptual analysis, and concludes that “at the core of the concept—what legitimacy is” is only a Hohfeldian moral power. In this article, I contend that: (1) Applbaum’s view of legitimacy, when fully (...) unfolded, refers to more than a mere moral power and should therefore be rejected even by his own standards; (2) Applbaum’s rejection of competing views of legitimacy ultimately relies on a claim that he does not successfully defend, namely, the claim that moral duties are of absolute rather than prima facie force. (shrink)
In most metaphysical debates a lot depends on primitives – indeed, metaphysical theories heavily rely on the use of primitives that they typically appeal to. I will start by shortly examining and evaluating some traditional well-known theories and I will discuss the role of primitives in metaphysical theories in general. I will then turn to a discussion of claims of 'equivalence' between theories that, I think, depend on equivalences of primitives, and I will explore the nature of primitives in general. (...) By doing this, I would like to emphasize the utmost importance of primitives in the construction of metaphysical theories and in the subsequent evaluation of them. I will then claim that almost all explanatory power of metaphysical theories comes from their primitives, and so I will turn to scrutinize the notion of "power" and "explanatory". All together, these points will naturally lead me to defend a global view on the nature of the metaphysical enterprise : what is at stake in metaphysics is to find out not just what there is or what there is not, but what is more fundamental than what – to find out what are the best primitives. (shrink)
This work examines the unique way in which Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) combines two significant philosophical principles: that real existence requires causal power and that geometrical objects display exceptionally clearly how things have properties in virtue of their essences. Valtteri Viljanen argues that underlying Spinoza's psychology and ethics is a compelling metaphysical theory according to which each and every genuine thing is an entity of power endowed with an internal structure akin to that of geometrical objects. This allows (...) Spinoza to offer a theory of existence and of action - human and non-human alike - as dynamic striving that takes place with the same kind of necessity and intelligibility that pertain to geometry. Viljanen's fresh and original study will interest a wide range of readers in Spinoza studies and early modern philosophy more generally. (shrink)
The Jamesian mode of writing, it has been claimed, actively works against an understanding of the way truth, history and power circulate in his texts. In this collection of essays, leading scholars of James analyse the strategies James used to address these crucial issues. Enacting History in Henry James claims that, because the type of knowledge available in James's fiction is never of a cognitive kind, the reader can never know 'truth' in any verifiable sense. James's writing instead promises (...) an experiential type of knowledge, one that is attained by participating in the power games and moral dramas that unfold within the text. This collection argues that reading James ultimately requires not just an emotional responsiveness, but also an ethical assumption of responsibility for the act of reading. By placing James's work in a fresh theoretical context, this book throws new light on this most enigmatic of writers. (shrink)
"This book does serve a very useful purpose in returning power to the centre of the feminist stage. . . . This book makes clear the ways in which the machinations of power are more subtle, widespread, and multiform than it sometimes appears. Further, the clarity of presentation means that it is also a text that can usefully be included on student bibliographies." --Women's Philosophy Review "The Gender of Power, which announces itself in the first line of (...) its Preface as a scholarly treatment of the 'battle of the sexes,' is a fine contribution to this promising dialogue of understanding." --The Journal of Men's Studies "This well-edited book addresses the problem of gender in theories of power directly, incisively, and succinctly. It is as joyfully free of jargon and prolixity, as it is of dogma and flag-waving.". (shrink)
This volume in honor of Miriam Griffin brings together seventeen international specialists. Their essays range from Socrates to late antiquity, with a particular focus on Cicero. Subjects covered include the Stoics and Cynics, Roman law, the formulation of imperial power, Jews and Christians, "performance philosophy," Augustine, late Platonism, and women philosophers.
In the conventional analysis of human behaviour, power and ethics are frequently considered contrary principles, in that power enforces, while ethics elicits a free response. But, as James Mackey forcefully shows, a more adventurous philosophical study of human morality escapes the sense of contraries, and sets us on a quest for the kind of power that liberates human creativity. It then becomes possible to establish the framework for a critical assessment of the kind of power that (...) ought to be operative in the major structures of human society, civil or ecclesiastical, state governments and church hierarchies. Mackey analyses the religious question which then quite naturally emerges, as to whether this Eros-type power so manifest in human society originates from beyond the more empirical structures of churches, states, and 'nature'; and the effort to detect the specifically Christian characterisation of an allegedly ultimate power working in us for final well-being finds its natural context. (shrink)
It has been remarked that there is a tendency in all Governments to an augmentation of power at the expense of liberty. But the remark as usually understood does not appear to me well founded.... It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the Government have too much or too little power, and that the line which divides the extremes should be so inaccurately drawn by experience. -/- Madison, letter to Jefferson, October (...) 17, 1788. (shrink)
Philosophers and social scientists have explored the ritual practices and the experience of worship, but there has been relatively little discussion of what makes something worthy of worship.However, we find a characteristically sophisticated examination of the issue by Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone episode "The Little People" (3rd Season, March 30, 1962). By considering the example of “The Little People” and a few variations, we can clarify the role power plays in making something worthy of worship. The episode (...) presents a scenario where a relative, although great, advantage in strength is not sufficient to make something worshipable. But what of far greater powers, such as that of creating the universe—is such power sufficient? If not sufficient, is great power necessary for something to be worthy of worship? Does omnipotence impart the bearer with the power to make others properly worship it? (shrink)
There is an opening in Castoriadis’ work for a notion of cruelty, and it emerges in the way in which he develops his idea of heteronomy, as a human world that is blinded or deflected away from human self-creation. This essay is an attempt to locate cruelty constitutively or ontologically in a post-metaphysical register, as an act of creativity that can be given form as a very particular act of singularity, that is, without regard for the other. Acts of human (...) cruelty are acts of imaginary, creative activity among others that themselves are form , that is, expressed in physically embodied, objectivated, linguistic or symbolic form, and often become highly stylized, and when socially instituted, have their own spatial and temporal dimensions. In this way, it is distinct from relations of power. (shrink)
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)
From the secrets of the universe to the healing powers of music, this book draws on the passions of eight professionals who explore the "power" behind their own particular fields of interest, from the arts and humanities to the natural sciences. Their essays span the fascinating world of microscopic biochemical machines; the power of the cinema screen; democracy; mathematical knot theory; innovative new ways of producing energy to meet increasing world demands as well as the power of (...) life and death. (shrink)
I present an alternative account of action centered around the notion of effort. I argue that effort has several unique features: it is attributed directly to agents; it is a causal power that each agent alone possesses and employs; it enables agents causally to initiate, sustain, and control their capacities during the performance of an action; and its presence comes in varying degrees of strength. After defending an effort-based account of action and criticizing what is known as the standard (...) story of action, I apply my account to situations in which an agent displays strength of will, such as when one struggles to perform an action while overcoming a persistent urge to do otherwise. I conclude by offering an explanation of mental action that demonstrates the extent of our powers of agency within the domain of the mental. (shrink)
Thomas Hobbes has been hailed as the philosopher of power par excellence; however, I demonstrate that Hobbes's conceptualization of political power is not stable across his texts. Once the distinction is made between the authorized and the effective power of the sovereign, it is no longer sufficient simply to defend a doctrine of the authorized power of the sovereign; such a doctrine must be robustly complemented by an account of how the effective power commensurate to (...) this authority might be achieved. Nor is this straightforward: for effective political power can fluctuate, sometimes severely. In this light, the prevalent juridical reading of Hobbes's political philosophy is inadequate. (shrink)
This book introduces and applies Foucault's most important concepts and procedures, and does so specifically for a psychology readership. Drawing on the recently published Collège de France lectures Abnormal (2003) and Psychiatric Power (2006), Foucauldian Analytics and Psychology is as useful to those concerned with Foucault's engagement with the "psy-disciplines" as it is to those interested in the practical application of Foucault's critical research methods.
"A consistently clear, comprehensive and accessible introduction which carefully sifts Foucault's work for both its strengths and weaknesses. McHoul and Grace show an intimate familiarity with Foucault's writings and a lively, but critical engagement with the relevance of his work. A model primer." -Tony Bennett, author of Outside Literature In such seminal works as Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish , and The History of Sexuality , the late philosopher Michel Foucault explored what our politics, our sexuality, our societal conventions, (...) and our changing notions of truth told us about ourselves. In the process, Foucault garnered a reputation as one of the pre-eminent philosophers of the latter half of the twentieth century and has served as a primary influence on successive generations of philosophers and cultural critics. With A Foucault Primer , Alec McHoul and Wendy Grace bring Foucault's work into focus for the uninitiated. Written in crisp and concise prose, A Foucault Primer explicates three central concepts of Foucauldian theory-discourse, power, and the subject-and suggests that Foucault's work has much yet to contribute to contemporary debate. (shrink)
The "only pretension, of which I am tenacious," wrote Hazlitt, "is that of being a metaphysician"; but his metaphysics, and particularly what this book identifies as his power principle, has until now been neglected. This exciting book studies Hazlitt's development of the power principle as a counter to the pleasure principle of the Utilitarians, and examines the revelation of power in his philosophy of discourse, his account of imaginative structure, his theory of genius, and his moral theory.
Constituent power : the concept of a crisis -- Virtue and fortune : the machiavellian paradigm -- The Atlantic model and the theory of counterpower -- Political emancipation in the American constitution -- The revolution and the constitution of labor -- Communist desire and the dialectic restored -- The constitution of strength.
This collection of original essays on political and legal theory concentrates on themes dealt with in the work of Felix Oppenheim, including fundamental political and legal concepts and their implications for the scope of morality in politics and international relations. Among the issues addressed are the relationship between empirical and normative definitions of "freedom", "power", and "interests", whether governments are free to act against the national interest, and whether they can ever be morally obliged to do so.
The topic of recognition has come to occupy a central place in contemporary debates in social and political theory. Rooted in Hegel's work, developed by George Herbert Mead and Charles Taylor, it has been given renewed expression in the recent program for Critical Theory developed by Axel Honneth in his book The Struggle for Recognition. Honneth's research program offers an empirically insightful way of reflecting on emancipatory struggles for greater justice and a powerful theoretical tool for generating a conception of (...) justice and the good that enables the normative evaluation of such struggles. (shrink)
United States will question a prospective loan early in the preparation process, And during final deliberation of a loan proposal by the Bank's executive board, it will make comments designed to draw attention to general matters of ...
Hannah Arendt’s (1906-1975) conception of power is entirely distinctive. It is rooted in a political philosophy that celebrates the public realm of freedom that emerges when people act with others as citizens or political equals. For Arendt, power is actualized where people act together to sustain or to change the world they share with one another. Her fundamental claim is this: ‘Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power (...) is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together’. This entry offers some background to Arendt’s account, highlights two important contrasts that she makes between power and violence, and then points to her related notion of authority. (shrink)
Can a planetary anthropology cope with both the "provincial cosmopolitanism" of alternative anthropologies and the "metropolitan provincialism" of hegemonic schools? How might the resulting "world anthropologies" challenge the current panorama in which certain allegedly national anthropological traditions have more paradigmatic weight--and hence more power--than others? Critically examining the international dissemination of anthropology within and across national power fields, contributors address these questions and many others.
This collection of essays analyzes relations of social inequality that appear to be logical extensions of a "natural order," and in the process demonstrates that a revitalized feminist anthropology of the 1990s has much to offer the field of feminist theory. Fashioned as a response to the lack of cultural analysis in feminist scholarship, the contributors question the category of gender within the inclusive context of the structural dynamics of inequality. They also examine how cultural identities, domains and institutions affect (...) our perception of gender in society. The first selection of essays addresses how ideas of family and kinship have fostered society's hierarchies and legitimized the status quo. In part two, the essays show how several dimensions of inequality are implicit in the construction of identities that are based upon ideas of social solidarity. Contributors: Susan McKinnon, University of Virginia; Kath Weston, Arizona State West; Rayna Rapp, New School for Social Research; Janet Dolgin, Hofstra University; Harriet Whitehead, Duke University; Carol Delaney, Stanford University; Brackette Williams, University of Arizona; Sylvia Yanagisako, Stanford University; Phyllis Chock, Catholic University; Sherry Ortner, University of Michigan; Anna Tsing, University of California, Santa Cruz. (shrink)
Naked Science is about contested domains and includes different science cultures: physics, molecular biology, primatology, immunology, ecology, medical environmental, mathematical and navigational domains. While the volume rests on the assumption that science is not autonomous, the book is distinguished by its global perspective. Examining knowledge systems within a planetary frame forces thinking about boundaries that silence or affect knowledge-building. Consideration of ethnoscience and technoscience research within a common framework is overdue for raising questions about deeply held beliefs and assumptions we (...) all carry about scientific knowledge. We need a perspective on how to regard different science traditions because public controversies should not be about a glorified science or a despicable science. Contributors are: Ward Goodenough, Eloisa and Brent Berlin, Colin Scott, Jean Lave, Emily Martin, Troy Duster, Hugh Gusterson, Charles Schwartz, Joan Fujimura, Sharon Traweek, Estellie Smith, Ellen Bielawaski, David Jacobon, Charles Ziegler, Pamela Asquith. (shrink)
In Wehmeier (J Philos Log 33:607–630, 2004) we are presented with the subjunctive modal language, a way of dealing with the expressive inadequacy of modal logic by marking atomic predicates as being either in the subjunctive or indicative mood. Wehmeier claims that this language is expressively equivalent to the standard actuality language, and that despite this the marked-unmarked dichotomies are not the same in the two languages. In this paper we will attend to Wehmeier’s argument that this is the case, (...) and show that this conclusion rests on what might be considered an uncharitable stipulation concerning what it is for a formula in the actuality language to be true in a model. (shrink)
Seeking to derive the manifestly qualitative world of objects and entities without recourse to fundamental categoricity or qualitativity, I offer an account of how higher-order categorical properties and objects may emerge from a pure-power base. I explore the possibility of ‘fields’ whose fluctuations are force-carrying entities, differentiated with respect to a micro-topology of curled-up spatial dimensions. Since the spacetime paths of gauge bosons have zero ‘spacetime interval’ and no time-like extension, I argue that according them the status of fundamental (...) entities would support a pure-power ontology. Such entities, circulating within self-sustaining micro-topological ‘networks’, feasibly maintain definite spatial configurations of conserved physical quantities, including energy-momentum. Perceived as time-like and massy, and representing fermionic entities, they give rise to the manifest world. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the Causal Theory of Properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are to be (...) deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a Power Holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. -/- Keywords: Shoemaker, Molnar, Holism, genuine properties, powers, Causal Theory of Properties . (shrink)
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)
Foucault's theory of disciplinary power and Bourdieu's theory of symbolic power are among the most innovative attempts in recent social thought to come to terms with the increasingly elusive character of power in modern society. Both theories are based on cri tiques of subject-centered analyses of power and offer original accounts of modern social institutions. But Foucault's critique of the subject is so radical that it makes it impossible to identify any deter minate social location of (...) the exercise of power or of resistance to its operations. Bourdieu's theory of practice in terms of the symbolically mediated interaction between the habitus and social structure avoids these problems by connecting relations of domination both to identi fiable social agents and to the institutions of the modern state. However, Bourdieu's strategic model of social action remains too narrow to allow for the possibility of autonomous agency and an emancipatory political praxis. The theory of symbolic power must be supplemented by a normative conception of practical reason if its emancipatory potential is to be realized. Key Words: agency habitus modernity power resistance. (shrink)
being, culminating in the technological understanding of being, in order to help us understand and overcome our current way of dealing with things as objects and resources, Foucault analyzes several regimes of power, culminating in modern bio-power, in order to help us free ourselves from understanding ourselves as subjects.
Comparisons of rival explanations or theories often involve vague appeals to explanatory power. In this paper, we dissect this metaphor by distinguishing between different dimensions of the goodness of an explanation: non-sensitivity, cognitive salience, precision, factual accuracy and degree of integration. These dimensions are partially independent and often come into conflict. Our main contribution is to go beyond simple stipulation or description by explicating why these factors are taken to be explanatory virtues. We accomplish this by using the contrastive-counterfactual (...) approach to explanation and the view of understanding as an inferential ability. By combining these perspectives, we show how the explanatory power of an explanation in a given dimension can be assessed by showing the range of answers it provides to what-if-things-had-been-different questions and the theoretical and pragmatic importance of these questions. Our account also explains intuitions linking explanation to unification or to exhibition of a mechanism. (shrink)
Press a square paperweight into a lump of soft clay. What results is a square impression. Could a circular impression have resulted instead? The answer seems to be No. In this paper, I take this and similar examples as evidence for power essentialism, the thesis that the powers bestowed by a property are essential to it. I spend most of the paper trying to answer a few arguments against the evidential value of such examples: (1) there is the appearance (...) of necessity here, but it is of the wrong sort of necessity, say, mere nomological necessity; (2) one gets the appearance of necessity only if powers (such as rigidity) are held fixed, rendering the examples useless as evidence for power essentialism; (3) the examples are too simple, too crudely mechanistic. (shrink)
Research on the nature of dispositionality or causal power has flourished in recent years in metaphysics. This trend has slowly begun to influence debates in the philosophy of agency, especially in the literature on free will. Both sophisticated versions of agent-‐causalism and the new varieties of dispositionalist compatibilism exploit recently developed accounts of dispositionality in their defense. In this paper, I examine recent work on agent-‐causal power, focusing primarily on the account of agent-‐causalism developed and defended by Timothy (...) O’Connor’s in his work on free will. Assuming the existence of irreducible causal powers, I offer an. (shrink)
Each of the following claims has been defended in the scientific literature on free will and consciousness: your brain routinely decides what you will do before you become conscious of its decision; there is only a 100 millisecond window of opportunity for free will, and all it can do is veto conscious decisions, intentions, or urges; intentions never play a role in producing corresponding actions; and free will is an illusion. In Effective Intentions Alfred Mele shows that the evidence offered (...) to support these claims is sorely deficient. He also shows that there is strong empirical support for the thesis that some conscious decisions and intentions have a genuine place in causal explanations of corresponding actions. In short, there is weighty evidence of the existence of effective conscious intentions or the power of conscious will. Mele examines the accuracy of subjects' reports about when they first became aware of decisions or intentions in laboratory settings and develops some implications of warranted skepticism about the accuracy of these reports. In addition, he explores such questions as whether we must be conscious of all of our intentions and why scientists disagree about this. Mele's final chapter closes with a discussion of imaginary scientific findings that would warrant bold claims about free will and consciousness of the sort he examines in this book. (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)
This paper explores the relation between rational authority and social power, proceeding by way of a philosophical genealogy derived from Edward Craig's Knowledge and the State of Nature. The position advocated avoids the errors both of the 'traditionalist' (who regards the socio-political as irrelevant to epistemology) and of the 'reductivist' (who regards reason as just another form of social power). The argument is that a norm of credibility governs epistemic practice in the state of nature, which, when socially (...) manifested, is likely to imitate the structures of social power. A phenomenon of epistemic injustice is explained, and the politicizing implication for epistemology educed. (shrink)
In their respective analyses of Western civilizations, both Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault were concerned to overcome metaphysical notions of power and freedom, seeing them as relations rather than as properties possessed by some groups and individuals but not others. This essay explores the similarities between their understanding of power and freedom as relations. However, there are many differences between these two theorists, most important of which is the Nietzschean philosophy that is the foundation of Foucault's analysis. Central (...) to the Foucauldian and Nietzschean understanding of power and freedom is the concept of "agonism," the eternal contest between humans. The author argues that this concept reintroduces metaphysics to the analysis of power and freedom in the form of a metaphysics of conflict. Elias's work offers a better way out of metaphysics because it is based on a sociological ontology from which truly relational concepts of power and freedom can be devised. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to clarify the relation between genealogy and history and to suggest a methodological reading of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals. I try to determine genealogy's specific range of objects, specific mode of explication, and specific textual form. Genealogies in general can be thought of as drastic narratives of the emergence and transformations of forms of subjectivity related to power, told with the intention to induce doubt and self-reflection in exactly those readers whose (collective) history (...) is narrated. The main interest in understanding the concept of genealogy and revisiting Nietzsche's introduction of it into philosophy lies in understanding how a certain way of writing and a certain textual practice function that successfully call into question current judgments, institutions and practices. Nietzsche's example, I argue, can provide a paradigm for a critical practice that accounts for historical processes of subject formation in terms of power and turns them against given forms of subjectivity. (shrink)
In contrast to political realism's equation of the `political' with domination, Hannah Arendt understood the `political' as a relation of friendship utterly opposed to the use of violence. This article offers a critique of that understanding. It becomes clear that Arendt's challenge to realism, as exemplified by Max Weber, succeeds on account of a dubious redefinition of the `political' that is the reverse image of the one-sided vision of politics she had hoped to contest. Questioning this paradoxical turn leads to (...) a critique of Arendt's separation of violence and power and, consequently, her attempt to insulate a politics of friendship from one of hostility and coercion. However, political realism is not thereby affirmed. What is required, instead, is a view of the `political' that accepts the interwoven-ness of violence and power but also emphasizes the normative ideals of moderation and care. Key Words: Hannah Arendt enmity friendship moderation the `political' power realism violence Max Weber. (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)
Sight is a capacity, and seeing is its exercise. Reflection on the sense in which sight is for the sake of seeing reveals distinct relations of dependence between sight and seeing, the capacity and its exercise. Moreover, these relations of dependence in turn reveal the nature of our perceptual capacities and their exercise. Specifically, if sight is for the sake of seeing, then sight will depend, in a certain sense, upon seeing, in a manner inconsistent with experiential monism. Thus reflection (...) on the power of perception forms the basis of an argument for experiential pluralism. (shrink)