Ethics 125 (4):1148-1150 (2015)

Graham Hubbs
University of Idaho
There is no consensus on the legitimacy of Chelsea Manning’s and Edward Snowden’s secret-revealing activities. Some see them as courageous acts of whistleblowing; to others they seem wanton acts of self-aggrandizement; still others find them traitorous acts of defiance. We can gain some clarity on these cases, I believe, if we consider them against the backdrop of Leslie Macfarlane’s “Justifying Political Disobedience.” After characterizing political disobedience, Macfarlane analyzes the possible justifiability of a politically disobedient act in terms of the act’s aim, the political obligations it rejects, its means, and its consequences. I show how this analysis can be used, not as a formula for determining the justifiability of acts of political disobedience, but rather as a procedure to isolate and to order the considerations that bear on this justifiability.
Keywords Whistleblowing  Civil Disobedience  Press Freedom
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DOI 10.1086/680883
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