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date: 23 July 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews Hanna Pitkin’s seminal book, The Concept of Representation, her most important and lasting contribution to political philosophy. Using Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ordinary-language theory, Pitkin explores the semantic landscape and the etymology of the concept of representation. In particular, she expounds on the meaning of representation by proposing four different views of representation: formalistic representation, descriptive representation, symbolic representation, and substantive representation. This chapter discusses Pitkin’s arguments, with particular emphasis on her assertion that representation is a paradox and that genuine representation respects the autonomy of the represented and the representative. It also considers the limitations of The Concept of Representation, such as its failure to adequately examine the relationship between democracy and representation.

Keywords: The Concept of Representation, Hanna Pitkin, political philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, ordinary-language theory, representation, autonomy, democracy

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