Toward a Critique of Neo-Republican Reason: The Subject, Discursive Control, and Power in Pettit’s Political Theory

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Abstract

This article examines the concept of ‘discursive control’ as a feature of the personality of the subject of non-domination as it appears within Pettit’s theory of politics and practical reasoning. It explores how the subject of non-domination, in possession of ‘discursive control,’ is enveloped within neo-republican proprietary order and thus constituted through, and constrained by, relations of power and violence. Such relations of power take the form of structures of raciality and gender that haunt the politics of recognition upon which Pettit’s subject of discursive control stands. The article examines the political consequences of this figuring of the subject of non-domination within Pettit’s text, I argue that Pettit’s politics of practical reasoning forecloses upon forms of political agency that are at variance with the norms of neo-republican political community. In developing this critique, I draw out its implications for our understanding of the problems of race and gender within neo-republican thought. Reading the idea of discursive control as synonymous with the question of logos in the history of political philosophy, I offer a post-republican critique of the politics of speech and recognition presupposed by Pettit’s account of the subject. The article concludes by asking what is the political price we pay for the theoretical satisfaction of a general theory of the subject?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalDistinktion: Journal of Social Theory
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2022

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