This book shows that civil disobedience is generally more defensible than private conscientious objection. -/- Part I explores the morality of conviction and conscience. Each of these concepts informs a distinct argument for civil disobedience. The conviction argument begins with the communicative principle of conscientiousness. According to this principle, having a conscientious moral conviction means not just acting consistently with our beliefs and judging ourselves and others by a common moral standard. It also means not seeking to (...) evade the consequences of our beliefs and being willing to communicate to them to others. The conviction argument shows that, as a constrained, communicative practice, civil disobedience has a better claim than private objection does to the protections that liberal societies give to conscientious dissent. This view reverses the standard liberal picture which sees private 'conscientious' objection as a modest act of personal belief and civil disobedience as a strategic, undemocratic act whose costs are only sometimes worth bearing. -/- The conscience argument is narrower and shows that genuinely morally responsive civil disobedience honours the best of our moral responsibilities and is protected by a duty-based moral right of conscience. -/- Part II translates the conviction argument and conscience argument into two legal defences. The first is a demands-of-conviction defence. The second is a necessity defence. Both of these defences apply more readily to civil disobedience than to private disobedience. Part II also examines lawful punishment, showing that, even when punishment is justifiable, civil disobedients have a moral right not to be punished. (shrink)
This essay offers a start on sorting out the relationships of argumentation and persuasion by identifying two systematic ways in which definitions of argumentation differ, namely, their descriptions of the ends and of the means involved in argumentative discourse. Against that backdrop, the traditional “conviction-persuasion” distinction is reassessed. The essay argues that the traditional distinction correctly recognizes the difference between the end of influencing attitudes and that of influencing behavior—but that it misanalyzes the means of achieving the latter (by (...) focusing on emotional arousal) and that it mistakenly contrasts “rational” and “emotional” means of influence. The larger conclusion is that understanding the relationships of the phenomena of argumentation and persuasion will require close attention to characterizations of communicative ends and means. (shrink)
Much philosophical effort has been exerted over problems having to do with the correct analysis and application of the concept of epistemic justification. While I do not wish to dispute the central place of this problem in contemporary epistemology, it seems to me that there is a general neglect of the belief condition for knowledge. In this paper I offer an analysis of 'degrees of belief' in terms of a quality I label 'conviction', go on to argue that one (...) requires more conviction in a proposition in order to know it than to merely believe it, and conclude by suggesting that some current epistemological issues admit of new insight when we begin taking conviction seriously. (shrink)
Rape conviction rates have fallen to all-time lows in recent years, prompting governments to explore a range of strategies to improve them. This paper argues that, while the current legal impunity for rape cannot be condoned, increasing conviction rates is not in itself a valid objective of law reform. The paper problematises the measure of rape law that conviction rates provide by developing an account of (some) feminist aims for rape law reform. Three feminist aims and associated (...) measures are explained—all of which look beyond conviction rates to qualitative and victim-centred outcomes of criminal justice processes. Applying these measures, I argue that strategies designed solely to increase conviction rates are more likely to work against, rather than in support of, feminist aims. The paper thus underscores the need for continued feminist engagement with rape law reform, broadly conceived, notwithstanding its acute limitations for feminist anti-violence politics. (shrink)
Our concern in this essay are the roles of religious conviction in what we call a “publicly justified polity” — one in which the laws conform to the Principle of Public Justification, according to which (in a sense that will become clearer) each citizen must have conclusive reason to accept each law as binding. According to “justificatory liberalism,”1 this public justification requirement follows from the core liberal commitment of respect for the freedom and equality of all citizens.2 To respect (...) each as free and equal requires that no one simply be forced to submit to the judgments of others as to what she must do. Laws must be justified to those subject to them — each must accept grounds that justify the law. As Kant indicated, if such a condition is achieved, each is both subject and legislator: each is subject to the law, yet each legislates the law, and so all our free and equal under the law.3 Now it would appear that if we are to justify laws to each and every person, the reasons for these laws must be “accessible to all.”4 Religious reasons, however, are not shared by everyone, and may be inaccessible to some: they would thereby seem inappropriate in public justification. On the face of it, justificatory liberals seem committed to expunging religious-based reasoning from political justification. Not surprisingly, this apparent commitment of justificatory liberalism is adamantly rejected by many citizens of faith who consider themselves liberals. These citizens embrace the traditional liberal freedoms and rights and, moreover, reject any suggestion that a legitimate polity might seek to establish a religion, much less a theocracy. Yet they.. (shrink)
We often praise people who stand by their convictions in the face of adversity and practice what they preach. However, strong moral convictions can also motivate atrocious acts. Two significant questions here are (1) whether conviction itself — taken as a mode of belief — has any distinctive value, or whether all the value of conviction derives from its substantive content, and (2) how conviction can be made responsible in a way that mitigates the risks of falling (...) into dogmatism, fanaticism, and other vices. In response to the first question, I suggest that conviction has instrumental value that derives from its relationship to integrity and courage. On the second question, I articulate the roles that reflection, discourse (engagement with others), and humility must play in the dialectical process of maintaining responsible convictions. (shrink)
We typically think of prosecutorial ethics as encompassing a special set of obligations for prosecutors during the pretrial and trial stages of a criminal case. In the literature and in rules of professional responsibility much attention is paid to the charging function, contact with unrepresented persons, plea negotiations, discovery, and courtroom decorum. Our concern with prosecutorial ethics at these stages is rooted primarily in due process and fairness to the accused. [W]hile he may strike hard blows, the Supreme Court wrote (...) in Berger v. United States, [a prosecutor] is not at liberty to strike foul ones. Whether it is a recognition that the prosecutor acts as a representative of the sovereign or that he or she possesses extraordinary power over people's lives, we speak about the prosecutor's ethical duties as special or additional to those of ordinary lawyers. By preventing a prosecutor from litigating unfairly, the aim is to protect a criminal defendant from an unjust or unwarranted conviction. What, then, are the ethical duties of prosecutors after the defendant has had his fair shot at trial, but lost? The literature and standards are surprisingly silent, with rare exception, on the post-conviction ethics of prosecutors. Constraints on the prosecutorial function seem to reach their apex at trial. Why? Are the reasons for special or additional ethics for prosecutors non-existent on appeal? Is the vast discretion, present at the pretrial and trial stages and thought by some to justify special ethical duties, absent on appeal? As a recent case from Texas illustrates, ethical issues still abound even after a jury returns a verdict of guilty. Nevertheless, the traditional discourse on pre-conviction duties can help us determine how prosecutorial discretion should be exercised after a conviction has been obtained. (shrink)
Proponents of sustainable agriculture seek deeply rooted social changes, but to advance this agenda requires political credibility and work with diverse partners. Asthe literature on political co-optation makesclear, the tension between conviction andcredibility is persistent and unavoidable; nota problem to be solved so much as a built-incondition of movement politics. Drawing on acase history of California's largestsustainable agriculture organization, astructural assessment is made of the strategicchoices facing movement leaders, organizationaltensions that accompany these choices, andperceived gains and losses. The case (...) historydemonstrates how movement leaders craft middlerange strategies that adapt to politicalcircumstances while retaining attachments tocore values and constituencies. Thesestrategies are ripe with tradeoffs, placingdemands on leaders who must implement them in aspirit that sustains organizational vitalitywhile broadening political and social impact.But they also enlarge the democraticsensibilities of movement leaders, increasingtheir ability to listen, learn, and forgealliances based on shared goals rather thansimilar motives. (shrink)
In this paper, I seek to challenge two prevailing views about religious accommodation. The first maintains that religious practices deserve accommodation only if they are regarded as something unchosen on a par with the involuntary circumstances of life people must face. The other view maintains that religious practices are nothing more than preferences but questions the necessity of their accommodation. Against these views, I argue that religious conducts, even on the assumption that they represent voluntary behaviours, deserve in certain circumstances (...) certain kinds of accommodation. They must be understood as one possible expression, along with nonreligious or secular beliefs, of a person's convictions of conscience, which are strong ethical commitments upon which depends the moral integrity of those having such convictions. I demonstrate that the main ground for religious accommodation is the need to protect fairly, through such rights as religious freedom and freedom of conscience, the ethical commitments and conscientious beliefs of all citizens. Finally, against the objection that such a view risks leading to the proliferation of demands for accommodation, I maintain that a deliberative approach to religious accommodation is in a good position to put serious hurdles in the path of unreasonable demands. (shrink)
Abstract Many political theorists have argued that religious reasons should play a rather limited role in public or political settings. So, for example, according to the Doctrine of Religious Restraint, citizens and legislators ought not allow religious reasons to play a decisive role in justifying public policies. Many military professionals seem to believe that some version of that doctrine applies in military settings, that is, that military professionals should not allow their religious convictions to determine how they exercise command authority. (...) We explain why the Doctrine of Religious Restraint should not apply to military professionals and articulate an alternative understanding of the justificatory role legitimately played by religious considerations in military settings. This alternative understanding assumes that military professionals will exercise command authority with tact, wisdom, and due respect for both the spirit and letter of the law, even when they are guided by robust faith commitments. (shrink)
People’s feelings about political issues are often experienced as moral convictions, that is, as rooted in beliefs about right and wrong, morality and immorality. The authors tested and found that morally convicted policy preferences are associated with positive as well as negative emotions among policy supporters and opponents, respectively, and that positive and negative emotions partially mediate the effects of moral convictions on relevant behavioral intentions (i.e., willingness to engage in activism).
I take pseudoscience to be a pretence at science. Pretences are innumerable, limited only by our imagination and credulity. As Stove points out, ‘numerology is actually quite as different from astrology as astrology is from astronomy’ (Stove 1991, 187). We are sure that ‘something has gone appallingly wrong’ (Stove 1991, 180) and yet ‘thoughts…can go wrong in a multiplicity of ways, none of which anyone yet understands’ (Stove 1991, 190). Often all we can do is give a careful description of (...) a way of pretending, a motivation for pretence, a source of pretension. In this chapter I attempt the latter. We will be concerned with the relation of conviction to rational belief. I shall be suggesting that the question of whether an enquiry is a pretence at science can be, in part, a question over the role of conviction in rational belief, and that the answer is to be found in the philosophical problem of the role of values in rational belief. (shrink)
The standard view in epistemology is that propositional knowledge entails belief. Positive arguments are seldom given for this entailment thesis, however; instead, its truth is typically assumed. Against the entailment thesis, Myers-Schulz and Schwitzgebel (Noûs, forthcoming) report that a non-trivial percentage of people think that there can be propositional knowledge without belief. In this paper, we add further fuel to the fire, presenting the results of four new studies. Based on our results, we argue that the entailment thesis does not (...) deserve the default status that it is typically granted. We conclude by considering the alternative account of knowledge that Myers-Schulz and Schwitzgebel propose to explain their results, arguing that it does not explain ours. In its place we offer a different explanation of both sets of findings—the conviction account, according to which belief, but not knowledge, requires mental assent. (shrink)
Abstract In this piece I take issue with Bernard Williams's interpretation of Herodotus as lacking something of our conception of time. I claim that there is nothing so unusual in the interleaving of myth or fiction and history that Williams finds in Herodotus. I also reflect on the difficulty of separating acceptance of truth from acceptance of myth, metaphor, and model, not only in history but also in science.
I maintain that George Ripley (1802-1880) is among the most philosophically searching New England transcendentalists. In this essay I argue that Ripley’s denial that God’s miracles are the sole evidence of Christian truth clarifies the issues and debate that divide empiricists who seek evidence for truth through external verification and intuitionists who maintain that religious truth is manifest only within the minds, hearts, and special senses of true believers.
Readers of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism recognize that Weber attempts to provide an ideal account of development of modern rational capitalism. What readers apparently do not realize is that Weber believes that there is a political development that is parallel to this economic development. Weber believed that Luther’s passive theology and doctrine of two kingdoms lead to quiet resignation in earthly matters. Luther advises shunning politics and avoiding political confrontation. In contrast, Weber held that Calvin’s theology (...) of awe and his doctrine of predestination lead to active political stances and even imply a duty to resist tyranny. However, Weber rejects both Luther’s and Calvin’s political stances because both believed in a divinely ordered world and held that the consequences of their actions were ultimately left to God. Weber contends that only those people who have the proper understanding of the nature of power and have a real appreciation for the ‘diabolic’ nature of politics are suitable to be political actors. Thus, Weber insists that only those people who will take responsibility for their own political actions have the right to ‘stick their hands in the wheels of history’. (shrink)
Summary The career of Jacques-Pierre Brissot (1754?1793) featured two phases, separated dramatically by the Revolution of 1789. Before the revolutionary crisis and the subsequent political struggle that was to cost him his life, Brissot was an avocet who never practised but sought instead a career as a writer?and indeed as a philosophe, seeing himself as an ally of Diderot. The improbability of such an alliance was not lessened by his early and continuing alliance with Linguet. Before embarking in1778 on what (...) would be a prolific career as a published author, Brissot had written the manuscript on which attention is focused here. This is an uncompleted ?Plan Raisoné? for a comprehensive sceptical critique of all systematic claims to certainty in knowledge. There is an evident though problematic relationship here with Brissot's 1782 De la vérité, but it is also clear that the influence of Rousseau and Brissot's increasingly radical political outlook must have entailed a widening divergence from the scepticism he had previously extolled?the ?Pyrrhonism? that would protect sensible readers against dogmatic absurdity. Death on the scaffold proclaimed certainty, not doubt. (shrink)