Power and Freedom

Opposite or Equivalent Concepts?

in Theoria
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The aim of this work is to offer an assessment of the conceptual relations between 'power' and 'freedom'. The two concepts are normally thought of as standing in a relation of mutual exclusion, and are often defined in reciprocal terms: while being free means not being subject to someone's power, to have power is to constrain someone's freedom. In this article I propose a more detailed interpretation of their conceptual relations, distinguishing between two different cases. In the case in which power and freedom are understood as properties of two different individuals involved in a social relation, I shall argue that they are not necessarily in a relation of mutual exclusion: power can be exercised in ways which do not reduce, and which might even increase, the power-subject's freedom. In the case, by contrast, in which they are understood as properties of the same individual, I shall claim that power and freedom show a significant degree of correspondence.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory