Power, luck and freedom

Collected essays

By Keith Dowding

Power, luck and freedom


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0456-4
  • Pages: 312
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £24.99
  • Published Date: October 2016
  • BIC Category: Social & political philosophy, Political science & theory, Comparative politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, PHILOSOPHY / Social, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Humanities / Social & political philosophy, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics
  • Series: Social and Political Power


This book presents thirteen essays from a leading contemporary political scientist, with a substantial introduction bringing together the themes. The topics covered include political and social power, freedom, choice, rights, responsibility, the author's unique account of luck and systematic luck and the nature of leadership. There are also discussions of conceptual analysis, the structure-agency debate, luck egalitarianism, Sen's liberal paradox, problems in the measurement of freedom and choice and the differences between instrumental and intrinsic accounts of the value of freedom and related concepts. The wide-ranging material will provide an excellent text for students at all levels. It is appropriate reading for a host of courses in the fields of political science, political sociology and political theory at both undergraduate and graduate level. Whilst addressing some philosophically difficult and advanced subjects, the accessible writing makes the subject-matter comprehensible for all levels of students.


'An impressive piece of work which brings together thirteen articles published by Dowding over the course of twenty-five years. The book, which complements and deepens the theses developed by Dowding in Rational choice and political power, relies on formal political theory and analytical philosophy to shed new light on our understanding of concepts such as power and freedom.'
Pamela Pansardi, Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy, Journal of Political Power, Vol. 10, No. 3,2017


Keith Dowding is Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, Canberra


Introduction: power, luck and freedom
Part I: Power
1. Why should we care about the definition of power?
2. Agency and structure: interpreting power relationships
3. Rational choice and community power structures
4. Power, capability and ableness: the fallacy of the vehicle fallacy
Part II: Luck
5. Resources, power and systematic luck: a response to Barry
6. Shaping future luck
7. Luck, equality and responsibility
8. Luck and leadership
Part III: Freedom
9. Choice: its increase and its value
10. The value of choice in public policy
11. Republican freedom, rights and the coalition problem
12. The construction of rights
13. Social choice and the grammar of rights and freedoms

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