Rawls and Gandhi on civil disobedience

Inquiry 19 (1-4):151 – 192 (1976)
Abstract
In the first section I compare and contrast Rawls's and Gandhi's views on civil disobedience as a form of persuasion. I discuss the difficulties facing such forms of civil disobedience; the argument that such forms of civil disobedience are redundant is examined and rejected. Some modifications of Rawls's theory are suggested regarding when civil disobedience is justified and what form it should take. Also, I argue, as against Rawls, that the Rawlsian State should, when that is necessary to prevent anarchy, be allowed to use severe measures against disobedients. In the second section I develop a second strand in Gandhi's thinking about civil disobedience, which links it with non?cooperation and which appears to be partly discrepant with his view of civil disobedience as a form of non?coercive persuasion. I attempt to show that Gandhian civil disobedience may effectively frustrate the evil policies of the State, without converting the State and yet without being coercive in any evil sense
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