One of the most prolific intellectuals of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault was a French philosopher whose work spans social and political theory, aesthetics, ethics, philosophy of science, existential psychology, and philosophy of history. Though his theoretical works were motivated by the actual political struggles in which he was engaged, Foucault remains a challenging thinker to situate with respect to global justice. Not only did he decline to posit a general theory of justice or rights, but he rejects the analytical framework that such endeavors presuppose. To understand the complicated relationship between Foucault’s work and global justice, then, it is important to see how both his critique and reformulation of the concepts of justice and rights follow from his analysis of power.
According to Foucault, normative theories of justice conceive of power juridically: that is, in terms of both a legal model, which evaluates power in terms of its legitimacy, and an institutional...
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