Benjamin Kiesewetter
Freie Universität Berlin
Political actions by Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, and other climate activists often involve violations of legal regulations – such as compulsory education requirements or traffic laws – and have been criticized for this in the public sphere. In this essay, I defend the view that these violations of the law constitute a form of morally justified civil disobedience against climate policies. I first show that these actions satisfy the criteria of civil disobedience even on relatively strict conceptions of civil disobedience. I then argue that they meet plausible justification conditions for civil disobedience because they are directed against serious and clear injustices, which legal means of influence have failed to remedy for decades. Finally, I reject the objection that civil disobedience against climate policy violates basic democratic principles because it claims authority to override democratically enacted agreements. When addressed to Fridays for Future activists, the objection misfires for the reason alone that these activists are largely minors that are excluded from democratic participation. Moreover, disobedience even by adult activists is justified by the existence of serious democratic deficits in our climate policies, especially since it can help to correct them. Such deficits include the lack of representation of the interests of people affected by climate change in the future and globally.
Keywords Civil disobedience  climate activism  Fridays for Future  Extinction Rebellion  Democratic authority  John Rawls
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Enfranchising All Affected Interests, and its Alternatives.Robert E. Goodin - 2007 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (1):40–68.
A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil.Candice Delmas - 2018 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Democratizing Civil Disobedience.Robin Celikates - 2016 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (10):982-994.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rawls and Gandhi on Civil Disobedience.Vinit Haksar - 1976 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 19 (1-4):151 – 192.
Rawls e a Desobediência civil.Julio Tomé - 2018 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC)
The Interpretation of Political Action: The Case of Civil Disobedience.A. Lawton - 1988 - Dissertation, University of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Is Ecosabotage Civil Disobedience?Jennifer Welchman - 2001 - Philosophy and Geography 4 (1):97 – 107.
Civil Disobedience: A Philosophical Overview.Piero Moraro - 2019 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
Radical Hope: Truth, Virtue, and Hope for What Is Left in Extinction Rebellion.Diana Stuart - 2020 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 33 (3-6):487-504.
The Justifiability of Violent Civil Disobedience.John Morreall - 1976 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):35 - 47.


Added to PP index

Total views
121 ( #96,545 of 2,506,109 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
121 ( #5,756 of 2,506,109 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes