The politics of non-domination: Towards an an-archic critique of neo-republican political philosophy
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This thesis offers an an-archic critique and analysis of Philip Pettit’s approach to theorising neo-republican politics and democracy. Neo-republican political philosophy has come to dominate much of the field of contemporary anglophone political theory, claiming strong democratic credentials as well as an innovative account of power, freedom, and political legitimacy. Freedom for neo-republicanism means non-domination and it is around this theory which the entire political project is organised. This thesis pursues two questions which relate strongly to the problem of political power, and are, to-date, neglected by the literature: 1. What is the theory of the subject of freedom as non domination? 2. What does Pettit understand by political community as it relates to the neo-republican theory of freedom and democracy? To this end, this thesis stages a critical encounter between Pettit’s Method of political philosophy and the post-structuralist critical political theory of Jacques Rancière. Rancière’s innovative account of emancipation and democracy, which is premised upon the presupposition that we are all equal, and structured around the unworking of a torsion of two logics, one of politics and equality, the other of inequality and what he calls ‘the police’, offers the central theoretical tools to map out the possibilities of democratic politics within the neo-republican Method. The argument, in short, is that Pettit’s neo-republicanism represents a case of political philosophy working to write over politics on philosophy’s terms. Pettit’s theory does so by negating that which is central to politics from a radical democratic perspective: dissensus, or ‘antagonism’. The argument is presented through a close deconstructive reading of Pettit’s corpus, which in turn paves the way to explore what an an-archic politics of non-domination might entail, based upon the concerted demonstration of an ‘axiomatic equality’.
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