Four theses on the powers of life and death

Mitchell Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


My concern in this paper is to consider issues of life and death as political issues, to locate a ʻbio-politicsʼ, a politics of life, and a ʻthanato-politicsʼ, a politics of death, within our ways of thinking about and imagining politics. I follow two recent theorists, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, who are convinced that not only must we consider how we exercise powers of life and death in modern politics but how the very notion of politics and political community are intimately related to such issues. At issue is the power we call sovereign power, and its relation to this politics of life and death. I shall in turn consider four possible theses that can be derived from the work of these thinkers and from other twentieth century critical and legal theorists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalContretemps : an online journal of philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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