Ideas, Powers and Politics

in Theoria
Lawrence Hamilton University of the Witwatersrand

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I make two main points in response to the two great articles on my book Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (FIP) published in this issue of Theoria. First, I assess the power of ideas, especially vis-à-vis the important imperative to decolonise knowledge production, taking on board much of Boisen and Murray’s arguments while qualifying their tendency to overstate the case for the power of ideas. I then comment on Allsobrook’s criticism of my attempt in FIP to marry Foucault’s view of power with my genealogical account of needs. I take on board his main concern and then argue – all too briefly – that his alternative ‘rights recognition thesis’ fails to escape his own critique of my needs-based view of freedom as power aimed at overcoming domination.

Contributor Notes

Lawrence Hamilton is Professor of Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and NRF/British Academy Bilateral Research Chair in Political Theory, Wits and Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books and articles in political theory and South African politics, most recently, Freedom is Power: Liberty Through Political Representation (Cambridge University Press 2014) and Are South Africans Free? (Bloomsbury 2014). He is currently working on a commissioned book, Amartya Sen (Polity 2018) and a manuscript entitled Human Rights, Human Needs and Political Judgement.

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A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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