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William E. Connolly's politics of complexity: a critique

Fear, Christopher



Copyright © University of Notre Dame 2017. In recent years, William E. Connolly has argued that the phenomenon of complexity in the physical sciences carries radical implications for political theory: namely, that political theorists should now be revising their concepts of agency, responsibility, and freedom. This very recent project of Connolly's has not (yet) attracted much opposition. Here I offer a critique of Connolly's argument which focuses on three key areas: (1) how he interprets and deploys evidence from physical science; (2) his theory of creative freedom; and (3) the impact that his recent philosophy has on the idea of the intellect. I argue that Connolly's scientific evidence is not what he claims it is; that the theory of creative freedom he offers fails; and that his critique of the intellect fails in theory, and would be highly damaging in practice.


Fear, C. (2017). William E. Connolly's politics of complexity: a critique. Review of Politics, 79(1), 73-98.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 23, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Jul 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 16, 2019
Journal Review of Politics
Print ISSN 0034-6705
Electronic ISSN 1748-6858
Publisher University of Notre Dame
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 79
Issue 1
Pages 73-98
Keywords Political Science and International Relations; Sociology and Political Science
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article has been published in a revised form in Review of politics
DOI: This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © copyright holder.


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