Power, luck and freedom

Collected essays

Keith Dowding
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The book collects thirteen previously published essays by Keith Dowding on social and political power, freedom, choice and luck. It is anchored by a substantial introductory essay that pulls together the different strands to demonstrate the coherence and connections between the different concepts discussed through the book. The book demonstrates the importance of the concept of power to political science and argues that comparative static definitions enable comparison of power structures in terms of agents’ resources. It shows the importance of systematic luck in understanding the power structure. However, static definitions are inherently unsatisfactory in dynamic settings. Here we need to apply game theory rather than game forms, and in dynamic settings luck is vital to our perception of freedom, responsibility and leadership. Later chapters reveal the problematic evaluation of choice and freedom and how these relate to responsibility. The book concludes by demonstrating that freedom and rights exist in different senses, which matter for our understanding of how much freedom exists in a society. It shows that Sen’s liberal paradox is ambiguous between rights as claims and rights as liberties; how fundamental his paradox is to our understanding of the conflict between rights and welfare depends on the manner in which we evaluate freedom.

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‘An impressive piece of work which brings together thirteen articles published by Dowding over the course of twenty-five years. The book, which complements and deepens the theses developed by Dowding in Rationalchoice and political power, relies on formal political theory and analytical philosophy to shed new light on our understanding of concepts such as power and freedom.'
Pamela Pansardi, Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
Journal of Political Power, Vol. 10, No. 3

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