Universiteit Leiden

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Political Science Lunch Research Seminar: The Distinction Between Power and Domination

Thursday 2 March 2017
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Power and Domination: Revisiting the Distinction

Any acceptable theory of social power must be able to draw a principled distinction between the power of parents, doctors, and teachers, on the one hand, and the power of robbers, pimps, and drug-pushers, on the other. This paper buttresses the distinction by defending an account of the relationship between power and normative reasons. More precisely, I argue that the distinction between dominating power and power simpliciter depends on the nature of the reasons that power grounds. A dominates B if and only if A's use of her power over B does not help B act for reasons independent of that power. Domination is therefore best conceived as a form of disempowering power.

Nicholas Vrousalis is Assistant Professor in Political Philosophy at Leiden University. Vrousalis read economics at Cambridge and received his doctorate in political philosophy from Oxford. His main research areas are distributive ethics, Marxism, and the philosophy of social science. Vrousalis’ work has appeared in Journal of Ethics, Politics Philosophy and Economics, and Philosophy and Public Affairs. During the 2015/16 academic year, Vrousalis was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at Princeton University. Vrousalis’ most recent monograph, a critical reconstruction of the political philosophy of G.A. Cohen, was published by Bloomsbury in September 2015.

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