Domination

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2018)
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Abstract

Theories of domination are primarily attempts to understand the value of justice, freedom, and equality by examining cases where they are absent. Such theories seek to clarify and systematize our judgments about what it is to be weak against uncontrolled strength, i.e., about what it is to be vulnerable, degraded, and defenseless against unrestrained power. Much contemporary disagreement about domination involves competing answers to three questions: (1) Who, or what, can dominate? (2) Is it possible to dominate merely by having power with a certain structure, or is domination an exercise or an abuse of power? (3) Exercised or unexercised, what kind of power is domination? The remainder of this entry will address each of these questions in turn, then conclude with a survey of how the idea of domination has been used in recent applied ethical theory. It will become clear as we examine competing answers to these three questions that different theorists have very different ideas of why, exactly, we need a theory of domination. There may be wide agreement that we need the idea of domination to make sense of unjust power relations, but unjust power relations are wildly varied, and theorists of domination disagree not only about which varieties most need to be understood, but about how theorizing domination helps us to understand them.

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Christopher McCammon
Tidewater Community College

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References found in this work

Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
A theory of justice.John Rawls - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring ethics: an introductory anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 133-135.
Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government.Philip Pettit (ed.) - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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