The Myth of Civil Disobedience
Praxis International, pp. 287-304, 1989
Erasmus Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Socio-legal Studies No. 10-04
19 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2010 Last revised: 14 Jun 2012
Date Written: August 30, 2010
This paper critiques the 'ruling' Rawlsian theory of civil disobedience. The theory is rejected because of its irrelevant and/or unsound assumption of a 'social contract'. Instead, an approach must be taken which does not assume one general political obligation. A more appropriate model is one which asserts the (possibility) and existence of various conditional reasons for obedience. Precisely these various reasons are critically analysed in this paper. In a final section this alternate approach is applied to disobedience performed by government officials and politicians.
Keywords: civil disobedience, Rawls, social contract
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