Power: ambiguous not vague

Keith Dowding*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The major problems for complex multi-dimensional social science concepts is incoherence, often hidden by the fact that they are also vague. Analytically, precisifying can demonstrate we have incompatible intuitions about the meaning of complex normative terms. Simple vague terms can be precisified with ‘coding decisions’. Vagueness differs from ambiguity. Ambiguity occurs when a term is used to mean two quite different things and can be handled by the subscript gambit. Power is neither vague nor incoherent. We can identify a simple sense underlying all accounts of ‘power’. Ambiguous usage concerns the extension to which the simple term is applied.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-26
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Political Power
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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