Defining civil disobedience

Inquiry 21 (1-4):249 – 269 (1978)
Though all of the principal features of Rawls's definition of civil disobedience are in varying degrees unacceptable, one of these consists of the fertile but unargued suggestion that civil disobedience is a mode of address. The first half of the paper tests this by construing civil disobedience as a vehicle of non?natural meaning (but not necessarily of linguistic non?natural meaning) and so as operating the Gricean mechanism of a hierarchy of intentions and beliefs. This feature is absent from other definitions but is essential if other kinds of conscientious illegality are to be contrasted. In the second half a definition is arrived at through rejections or modifications of the other Rawlsian conditions and by reference to some recent accounts of force and violence. It is hoped that the definition has the double advantage of being broadly congruent with our intuitions and of supplying a theoretical underpinning for what it includes and excludes
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    Marshall Cohen (1972). Liberalism and Disobedience. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):283-314.
    H. P. Grice (1957). Meaning. Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
    H. P. Grice (1969). Utterer's Meaning and Intention. Philosophical Review 78 (2):147-177.

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