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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S046-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

The general notion of power involves the capacity to produce or prevent change. In social and political philosophy, narrower conceptions of power specify the nature of these changes. Social power is the capacity to affect the interests of agents. Normative power is the capacity to affect their normative relations, such as their rights or duties.

There are long-standing conceptual disputes about the nature of power. Some emphasize the role of actual or potential conflicts of interest in defining power relations, others take legitimacy and consensus about norms as the basis. There is also a dispute, involving the nature of social explanation, about whether power must rest with agents or with social structures or forces of some kind. The lack of consensus on these matters raises the overarching question of whether the concept of power, which seems to function as a descriptive term, in some way involves evaluation.

Citing this article:
Green, Leslie. Power, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S046-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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