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Theories of domination are primarily attempts to understand the value of justice, freedom, and equality by examining cases where they are absent. Such theories seek to clarify and systematize our judgments about what it is to be weak against uncontrolled strength, i. There is, of course, considerable disagreement about what domination Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price is. Even so, theorists of domination tend to agree about this much: domination is a kind of unconstrained, unjust imbalance of power that enables agents or systems to control other agents or the conditions of their actions.
The basic idea has the following components:. Much contemporary disagreement about domination involves competing answers to three questions: 1 Who, or what, can dominate? The remainder of this entry will address each of these questions in turn, then conclude with a survey of how the idea of domination has been used in recent applied ethical theory. It will become clear as we examine competing answers to these three questions that different theorists have very different ideas of why, exactly, we need a theory of domination. There may be wide agreement that we need the idea of domination to make sense of unjust power relations, but unjust power relations are wildly varied, and theorists of domination disagree not only about which varieties most need to be understood, but about how theorizing domination helps us to understand them.
Another word of qualification before proceeding: what follows is a survey of work almost entirely from Anglophone political philosophers and political theorists, broadly within the Analytic tradition. For theories of domination from the Continental tradition, see the entry, feminist perspectives on power. The neorepublican tradition i. The metaphysics of group agency usually require shared beliefs or t intentions among the members of the group; but, dominating power may be grounded in group membership white people in Western racialized hierarchies, men in patriarchy even if that group, or some of its members, do not meet the metaphysical requirements for group agency.
At least for those who think unexercised power is sufficient for domination, a man who rejects the patriarchy of his society may still dominate women because of what he is in a position to do—e. A minority position in the literature sees domination fundamentally as a relation between groups, where any domination between individuals is parasitic on group membership. If this is true, the domination of one individual by another counts as such only because one belongs to a dominant group and the other belongs to a subordinate group Wartenberg That agents alone can be dominated is rarely disputed; but can agents alone dominate?
What about non-agents like institutions or systems or ideologies? The grocer posts slogans favorable to the regime in the window of his shop.
By posting the slogans, he both als his cooperation with power and extends its reach. Workers who Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price deeply imbibed the values of capitalism might be another example see Thompson: e. While it may be that the values of capitalism are a social construct produced over time by agents for their own benefit, if what motivates the worker is their own corrupted sense of self-worth, it makes sense to think that they might be dominated by an ideology rather than other agents.
The central question is whether we can understand possible examples of domination by systems or ideologies as instances of domination by agents through systems or ideologies. An affirmative answer is more often assumed than argued for in the literature, but Frank Lovett tries to motivate it with this example:. Imagine a society in which the law of property recognizes the possibility of ownership in human beings, but in which it just happens that there are as yet no slaves. Later still, the masters repent, and manumit their slaves.
Lovett thinks we will agree that domination occurs only during the period after slaves are imported and before their manumission: the legal system that Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price property in slaves enabled domination but did not dominate. The proposed lesson of another thought experiment—this one from Gwilym David Blunt 17—18 —is that domination without agents is conceivable but impracticable, at least in the near term.
If this is domination, it cannot be domination by the deceased legislator on the assumption that the dead have no agencyor by the automatons who are assumed to be not sophisticated enough to count as agentsor by the privileged population who did not write the laws and cannot control the automatons ; therefore, it must be the system itself that dominates. In general, the disagreement about whether agents alone dominate tracks the division between theories directly influenced by neorepublicans and those descended from other traditions.
Working from this central example, the republican tradition tends to see institutions, systems, and ideologies as sources of power that make mastery possible rather than as standalone sources of domination without agents. If, instead, our attention is focused on the ways power can shape the consciousness of those under its sway, domination by, e. One of the most persistent recent disagreements concerns whether or not domination requires the exercise of power.
Neorepublicans tend to link domination to what agents are in a position to do or have the capacity to do rather than what agents actually do. This is mostly because of the role domination plays within neorepublican ideas of freedom. Neorepublicans say their advantage is the way they highlight how potential interference reduces freedom.
This is the point of the most famous example from the republican tradition: the slaves of a kind or lazy master are slaves nonetheless, and so are paradigmatically unfree even though their master is too kind or lazy to interfere with them.
What does it look like to have power that counts as domination even though unexercised? This way of examining social relationships looks away from how empowered agents exercise their power to the nature of that power itself. We do not stop objecting to paradigmatic dominators merely because they promise to make kind and judicious use of their powers; emancipation seems to require that they cease to have that kind of power.
This highlights neorepublican doubts about whether self-regulation by the powerful can reduce domination Lovett There are two primary lines of objection to the claim that only a change in how power relations are structured can check domination, rather than changes to the outcome of the relation or to the character of the empowered.
The first is that it fails to capture realities of what the dominated really object to; the second is that it le to ificant over-generalization. No one denies that victims of power object to the outcomes of its use, and not merely to their initial vulnerability to that power.
Certainly, neorepublicans want to say that both are objectionable. But if we insist that domination refers properly only to the structure of a power relation, and not to outcomes of that relation, we may have a difficult time explaining the standard use of domination to refer to overwhelming power wielded against the defenseless. Is this counterfactual history still a story of European domination? If not, it is tempting to identify European domination with the actual harm inflicted on people who were not equipped to resist them Katz There is reason to think, too, that the dominated sometimes have complaints specifically about the character of the powerful.
This issue has been revisited in the work of Christopher Lebron and Melvin Rogers forthcoming. Rogers especially insists that theories of domination influenced by neorepublicanism overplay the irrelevance of character to dominating power. This transformation requires not only the external checks on domination achievable by legal reforms, but a transformation in the hearts of white Americans.
Rogers argues that neorepublican theories of domination are formed by resistance to political slavery, where the essential humanity of the slave is not in question; unlike chattel slavery, which was built on and maintained by an ideological commitment to white supremacy and black inferiority. Legal reforms may be sufficient to counter political slavery: they represent a turn of the legal order toward closer alignment with the already acknowledged value of the enslaved.
However, legal reforms alone, while necessary, are not enough when this value is systematically denied. Over-generalization worries are the most common objection to neorepublican approaches to domination. If domination is just the capacity for arbitrary interference, and given that such capacities seem ubiquitous, domination may be ordinary to the point of triviality. Even when sitting around minding their own business, physically strong people have the capacity to overpower weaker people; even if they never do, people with a natural gift for persuasion have the capacity to talk the gullible out of their savings Friedman Also, if the primary function of the state is to minimize domination, neorepublicanism suggests that the state should try to make people less strong or less persuasive in order to reduce their capacity for arbitrary interference.
That is unsavory. For some feminists, the over-generalization worry is specifically that neorepublicans make relationships of care and dependency unreasonably suspect. A caregiver who would not dream of harming their charges nevertheless has the capacity to: infecting wounds instead of cleaning them, throwing someone down the stairs instead of helping them up Friedman Pettit acknowledges this feature of his theory when he claims that caring and uncaring mothers—and presumably caring and uncaring fathers—alike dominate their children in a state of nature Pettit — The alternative is to insist that though care providers may stand in a relationship of unequal power with a vulnerable dependent, unless this power is abused it does not dominate.
The attractiveness of this alternate depends on how we understand powers or capacities. If A has a power or capacity to interfere so long as it is possible in any sense for A to do so, as Pettit sometimes suggests, criticism focusing on the value of care is damaging: clearly, it is [e. If, however, A does not have the power to interfere so long as appropriate penalties are in place for such interference, the objection may not be so potent.
A hallmark of feminist ethics and political philosophy has been the insistence that power relations inside the home often manifest domination, even though the home can be a center of loving care and dependence, and that legal regulation—against spousal abuse or child neglect—might reduce that domination Costa Such laws, of course, do not make interference impossible simpliciter ; instead, it Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price interference risky and potentially costly.
Also, shifting from domination as mere power to domination as abuse of power may lead to other unattractiveespecially given broadly feminist commitments. Does the bully dominate the white children just as much as the black children? What about someone like s American senator Joseph McCarthy? He had the same power to interfere in the lives of right-wing and left-wing Americans; but citizens on the left had far more reason to fear him. Perhaps the intuitive judgment here is that the bully only dominates the black children, and that McCarthy only dominates left-wing citizens.
Both examples are from Ian Shapiro ; It should be noted, however, that the persuasiveness of these examples depends in part on whether we think domination is the sole political evil, at least in the sense that all other political evils can be addressed most effectively by minimizing domination.
Interestingly, Shapiro emphasizes Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price possibility that someone may be vulnerable to domination without being dominated, and that vulnerability to domination—like domination itself—is morally ificant and represents an injustice While the idea of domination as vulnerability recurs in the neorepublican literature, there is relatively little examination of this intermediate category: those who are vulnerable to domination without being dominated.
The controversy about whether completely dormant power can dominate continues, but there is broad consensus that you can be dominated even if nobody is actively dominating you at the moment. Even if there is no domination without an actual display of power over you or people like you at some time, domination might persist when unexercised precisely because of its exercise.
If power has been exercised over you in the past, or over someone like you perhaps because you are both members of a subordinated social groupthis will affect how you relate to those in power. For example, suppose you know that the boss can fire you at will. He has not fired you or even threatened to do so, and so has not actually exercised his power over you. Even so, you have seen him exercise this power over other employees.
This motivates the view that your domination does not require the active exercise of power against you even though it might require the active exercise of power against someone relevantly like you. Of course, this le to further questions: e. Such questions have received relatively little attention thus far but see Hirschmann Exercised or unexercised, what kind of power is domination? If domination is about how social relationships are structured, what is A in a position to do if A dominates B?
If domination requires the exercise of power, how does A use their power when they dominate B? Along one dimension, we can sort answers to these questions into the moralized vs. For a moralized theory, identifying domination requires us to settle more foundational questions about what is morally right or wrong, just or unjust.
For example, if we say that dominating power is the power to violate human rights, our theory of domination depends on a theory of human rights—obviously a moral theory. Non-moralized theories hold that we can identify domination without reference to theories of the right or the good. For example, if we say that dominating power is power over the means of production, our theory of domination will depend on a [plausibly] descriptive theory of what counts as the means of production.
Contributions to the contemporary discussion of domination from all-comers are generally motivated by profound ethical concerns. Sorting is also required along another dimension. In addition to questions of moralization or non-moralization, there is the question of how domination relates to the use of power to dictate norms and rules, or the use of power to claim authority.Dominate top looking 4 Tom Price
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