AbstractThis paper is a post-print of an article published in Politics 20(3): 129-135. The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9256.00122
Michel Foucault calls for the head of the king in political theory. In doing so he seems to sever the concept of power from its relation to human responsibility. However, for theoretical 'monarchists' such as Stephen Lukes, the whole point of identifying a relationship of power is to fix responsibility for its exercise. Given the contingency of political action, I agree with Foucault that it is not always possible to attribute responsibility for the effects of power to a particular agent. However, Foucault stretches the concept of power too far beyond its ethical association with human responsibility. Consequently, the idea of power becomes practically meaningless.
Schaap, A. (2000). Power and responsibility: should we spare the king's head? Politics, 20(3), 129-135.