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POLI.4110 The Concept of Power (Formerly 46.411/57.511)

Id: 006189 Credits Min: 3 Credits Max: 3


If much of western liberal political thought has been preoccupied with limiting and structuring the power of the state, then the flip side of that preoccupation has been a corresponding commitment to the idea of individual autonomy. In other words, we limit the power of the state in order to protect the autonomy of the individual, and the state's power is justified only as far as it enhances rather than erodes our autonomy. This framework - that state power and autonomy operate in direct tension with one another - is a central paradigm of the western liberal political tradition in which we live. We begin the course within this framework, and then move to trouble, complicate, and critique both the concept of individual autonomy and the concept of political power.

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