Critique of telic power

Abstract

To build a bridge between the approach of ideal and non-ideal social ontologists to the study of social phenomena, Åsa Burman has recently introduced the important notion of telic power and differentiated it from deontic power. This paper aims to analyse and criticise telic power. We argue that Burman is correct in keeping deontic power and telic power conceptually separated, and we agree that combining these two concepts in explanations proves theoretically illuminating. We suggest that telic power is especially useful to explain how social conflict can break out. However, we contend that the relation between teleological normativity and telic power has not been fully clarified and requires further investigation. Also, we disagree with Burman on the reasons why deontic power and telic power are conceptually distinct. Finally, we contend that Burman’s thesis that these two forms of power have different conditions of existence is very doubtful: in the social world, telic power is normally not, and probably cannot be, ontologically disjoined from deontic power. We suggest that the telic and deontic dimensions of social normativity support each other in shaping social power.

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Author Profiles

Luca Moretti
University of Aberdeen
Sandro Guli’
University of Aberdeen

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