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Rational Choice and Political Power$
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Keith Dowding

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529206333

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529206333.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Nature of the Exercise

The Nature of the Exercise

(p.193) 10 The Nature of the Exercise
Rational Choice and Political Power

Keith Dowding

Policy Press

Chapter 10 discusses conceptual analysis. It argues we should try to define terms in as non-normative a manner as possible. Whilst defining terms for specific purposes is justified we cannot expect to define important political concepts in a universal manner without acknowledging the research question that is being posed as part of that analysis. Whilst defining terms by necessary and sufficient conditions will always seem desirable, given that society changes and morality develops normative terms will evolve and change over time much like species. The chapter returns the essential contestability and suggests that some concepts are actually incoherent once we try to bring precision. This incoherence is hidden by their vagueness in application. It argues that power is not a vague term in the sense that freedom or democracy are. The analyses of power in this book is designed to give a scientific account of our folk understandings and enable a scientific description and analysis of the power and luck structure. It returns to the type-token distinction bringing out how important the distinction is to the analysis of power in the book, which is directed at type-level explanations. The analysis is comparative statics, but dynamic game theory can provide a way to examine token power struggles as they unfold. It shows how the analysis offered in the book is structural despite seeing power as measured by the resources of agents – their capacity is given by the power and luck structure. It acknowledges that deep structure goes right into the heart of the formation of human preferences.

Keywords:   conceptual analysis, essential contestability, vagueness, structure, type and token

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