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Power and Domination

Co-Organized by the Research Group on Constitutional Studies (RGCS) of the Yan P. Lin Centre, the Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en philosophie politique de Montréal (GRIPP), the Centre de recherche en éthique (CRÉ), and the McGill Department of Philosophy.

Description: RGCS, GRIPP, CRÉ, and the McGill Department of Philosophy are pleased to announce a three-day international workshop which will highlight new and ongoing work that undertakes substantive inquiry into the scope and dynamics of structures of social power and domination.

As the high tide of Rawlsianism recedes, political theorists and philosophers are devoting renewed attention to a number of concepts that had been central to classical social theory but largely submerged during Rawls’s ascendance in political philosophy. New works on domination, social structures, and power have proliferated. In particular, the relational egalitarianism pioneered by Elizabeth Anderson and the neo-republicanism favoured by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner have aspired to reorient the focus of political theory away from the distribution of goods and towards social structures constituted by hierarchical relations of social power amongst individuals, whether relations of oppression (emphasized by relational egalitarians) or of domination (the central issue for neo-republicans). This workshop will highlight work analyzing these key concepts.

The workshop will occur over three days. Day one will be a workshop on Arash Abizadeh’s manuscript on Power, Subjection, and Democracy, elements of which have appeared in recent articles on social power. Day two will focus on William Clare Roberts’s book manuscript, A Radical Politics of Freedom: Domination, Ideology, and Self-Emancipation. On day three, participants will present papers on key questions and concepts which work to clarify the stakes of competing definitions of power and domination and the implications of focusing our political theorizing on these concepts.

Format: To maximize the quality of discussion, participants are expected to have read the manuscripts beforehand. All participants will receive copies of the manuscripts in advance of the workshop.


Aug. 15: Manuscript: Power, Subjection, and Democracy (Arash Abizadeh)

9:15: Coffee, Tea & Pastries

9:30: Welcome

9:45 – 11:30: Chair: Jacob T. Levy (politics, McGill)

Commentators: Amanda Greene (philosophy, UC Santa Barbara): The Grammar of Agential Power (Ch 1); Daniel Weinstock (law, McGill): Agential Power & Causation (Ch 2)

11:30 – 13:00: Lunch

13:00 – 14:45: Chair: Dominique Leydet (philosophie, UQAM)

Commentators: Éliot Litalien (philosophy, CRÉ): The Power of Numbers (Ch 3); Mara Marin (politics, Victoria): Structural Power (Ch 4)

15:00 – 16:45: Chair: Pablo Gilabert (philosophy, Concordia)

Commentators: Sean Ingham (politics, UC San Diego): Subjection to Power & Domination (Ch 5); Niko Kolodny (philosophy, UC Berkeley): Democratic Equality (Ch 6)

19:00: Dinner

Aug. 16: Manuscript: A Radical Politics of Freedom (William Clare Roberts)

9:15: Coffee, Tea & Pastries

9:30 – 11:15: Chair: Yann-Allard Tremblay (politics, McGill)

Commentators: Alex Gourevitch (politics, Brown): Negative Freedom for Socialists (Ch 1); William Paris (philosophy, Toronto): What’s the Matter with Self-Determination? (Ch 2)

11:15 – 12:45: Lunch

12:45 – 14:30: Ryoa Chung (philosophie, Montréal)

Commentators: Vanessa Wills (philosophy George Washington): Ideology and Self-Emancipation (ch 3); Yves Winter (politics, McGill): Ideology and Self-Emancipation (ch 3)

14:45 – 16:15: Chair: Hasana Sharp (philosophy, McGill)

Overall Thematic Discussion of Manuscripts

18:30: Dinner

Aug. 17: Papers

9:00: Coffee, Tea & Pastries

9:15 – 11:00 – Papers I

Alex Gourevitch, “Structural Domination and Social Reproduction”

Mara Marin, “Structural Obligations”

11:15 – 12:30: Lunch

12: 30  – 14:15 – Papers II

William Paris, “”Beyond Rights Externalism: James Boggs and the Question of Black Power”

Amanda Greene, “Power and Political Realism”

14:30 – 16:15: Papers III

Sean Ingham, “Luck and Power, Revisited”

Vanessa Will, « Marx’s Critiques of Rival Moral Theories »

18:30: Dinner

Registration: The workshop is open to everyone, but attendance is by registration and limited in number. RSVP the registration coordinator Michelle Atkin: