Power, luck and freedom: Collected essays
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This book presents thirteen essays by Keith Dowding, one of the world's foremost authorities on political and social power. Ranging across a number of related topics - including luck, choice, freedom and rights - Dowding criticises static explanatory models of power, emphasising the need for a more dynamic approach. The alternative he proposes is a rational choice resourcist model, which takes into account the crucial factors of reputation and luck.
The power of agents, notably leaders, is partially based on our perception of their power. In strategic settings luck plays a role in outcomes, but these outcomes then feed into the ability and reputation of actors, enhancing or damaging their power. Perceptions feed into reality which then feeds back into perceptions. Dowding shows how luck is related to responsibility - reducing some types of luck in outcomes will, paradoxically, also reduce responsibility. He integrates this account into our understanding of the value of choice and freedom, demonstrating that collective action provides problems for republican accounts of freedom from domination. Arguing that choice is valued instrumentally, he then shows that the 'liberal paradox' of Amartya Sen, while demonstrating the need to balance welfare and rights, does not present the fundamental evaluational problems Sen claims.
Featuring a substantial introduction written specially for the volume, Power, luck and freedom serves as an excellent overview of the work of a key thinker on power. It will support undergraduate and graduate work in political science, political sociology and political theory.