Reflections on Phronetic Social Science: A Dialogue between Stewart Clegg, Bent Flyvbjerg, and Mark Haugaard
Journal of Political Power, June 2014
64 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2014 Last revised: 8 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2014
Clegg, Flyvbjerg and Haugaard debate the strengths and weaknesses of a Foucauldian-Nietzschean critique of power compared to a tradition exemplified by Lukes and Habermas. Flyvbjerg and Clegg argue that the pursuit of universal normative principles and of rationality without power may lead to oppressive utopian thinking. Drawing on the Aristotelian tradition of phronesis, they propose a contextualist form of critique that situates itself in analysis of local practices to render domination transparent and open to change. While Haugaard accepts there cannot be a universal view that transcends the particularities of context, he argues that the phronetic approach is crypto-normative because it implicitly presupposes unacknowledged liberal normative premises; moreover, any use of ‘truth’ as a criterion follows Enlightenment principles of verification.
Keywords: phronesis, power, truth, domination, critique
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