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Power, Luck and FreedomCollected essays$
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Keith Dowding

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526107282

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526107282.001.0001

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Why should we care about the definition of power?

Why should we care about the definition of power?

(p.29) 1 Why should we care about the definition of power?
Power, Luck and Freedom

Keith Dowding

Manchester University Press

Being pluralist about the concept of power does not mean that all definitions are equally valid. Many definitions are non-rival and gain their utility from the specific contexts in which they are applied. Others are rival and their relative utility derives from how good an explanation is provided by the theory of which they are part. Such explanation is constrained by the world, because good explanation is constrained by the expectations it engenders. Some conceptions of power and related terms do similar explanatory work, but hold different normative values. The contestability of ‘power’ derives from the normative work it does in different contexts and explanations. By making our concepts as non-normative as possible, we can ensure that moral or political disagreement is brought into the open. How we define social and political power does matter in some contexts for both explanatory and normative reasons.

Keywords:   Concepts, Conceptual analysis, Essential contestability, Normativity, Power, Social structure

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