In its broadest sense, power refers to the capacity to produce effects on the world, to bring about changes in it. The entity or agent possessing this capacity may be natural, organic, or human. Thus, we speak of the power of wind-storms, electric grids, and animals, including human beings. Both Thomas Hobbes's definition of power as “man's present means to any future apparent good” and Bertrand Russell's as “the production of intended effects” refer solely to humans and are therefore relevant to the social sciences, Russell's on the assumption that humans alone are capable of full intentionality, that is, of conscious purposive action. Hobbes identified power with the possession of “means” to achieve desired ends (or “goods”), whether they are employed to that effect or ...

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