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The ethics of normative power

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posted on 2022-10-12, 09:59 authored by Stacia Beiniks
The question addressed by this research is; how can the concept of normative power be morally evaluated? In general terms, normative power is thought to be an ability or disposition, where A has normative power when it is able to diffuse through communicative acts a norm n to B. However, prevailing theories also assume that all uses of normative power are justified, and that this is dependent on the norm promoted being defined as valid. This alters the definition of normative power slightly, where A now has normative power if and only if A is able to diffuse through communicative acts a valid norm n to B. Chapter one argues that if normative power is a dispositional form of power, then it cannot be necessarily justified; rather, there are justifiable and unjustifiable uses of normative power. Chapter two argues that any moral evaluation of normative power that refers to norm content faces difficulties and it is inconsistent to evaluate normative power by reference to the content of the norms diffused. The only feasible way to evaluate normative power is to focus on the mechanisms of diffusion. Because the mechanisms of diffusion are communicative acts, a theory of deliberative democracy would be a useful theoretical standard for evaluating uses of normative power. Chapter three identifies and describes three requirements derived from deliberative democracy as suitable criteria for judging a use of normative power. First, that the communicative act(s) are non-coercive. Second, that A, in diffusing a norm n, demonstrates reflexivity. Third, that A is inclusive of B in the diffusion of a norm n, in other words, B is included in the deliberative process.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Lodge, Tom





Department or School

  • Politics & Public Administration

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