Fictional Expectations and the Ontology of PowerSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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What kind of thing, as it were, is power and how does it fit into our understanding of the social world? I approach this question by exploring the pragmatic character of power ascriptions, arguing that they involve fictional expectations directed at an open future. When we take an agent to be powerful, we act as if that agent had a robust capacity to make a difference to the actions of others. While this pretense can never fully live up to a social reality whose future is open, acting on such expectations helps constitute social order. Fictional expectations are thus built into the material practices that constitute power. This account, I argue, helps us make sense of some of the deep disagreements about the nature of power. I develop the account by drawing on Thomas Hobbes’s myth of an original institution of sovereign power before expanding it to other forms of power.