Réal Fillion, Freedom, Responsibility, and the ‘American Foucault’, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Volume: 30 issue: 1, page(s): 115-126
January 1, 2004


Foucault’s work is rich enough to sustain multiple readings. I argue in this paper for the continued construction and maintenance of what I have called the ‘American Foucault’, whose principal preoccupation is with the question of how to be free within our contemporary political constraints and possibilities. (Such a Foucault can be found in the works of American writers such as W. E. Connolly, Todd May, and Thomas Dumm.) Appreciation of Foucault’s contribution to an understanding of freedom is too often hampered, however, by the insistence on the part of many of the most influential of Foucault’s critics (and some of his defenders) that his particular mode of thinking is ultimately too irresponsible. It is thought that Foucault’s refusal to account for the grounds of his work vitiates his overall project. I argue that, if we distinguish between the ‘account-ability’ demanded by his critics and the ‘response-ability’ that his work permits, we will be in a better position to appreciate the timeliness of his conception of freedom.

Keywords accountability, critique, Foucault, freedom, genealogy, responsibility, theory

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