Ten-Herng Lai
Australian National University (PhD)
A prominent way of justifying civil disobedience is to postulate a pro tanto duty to obey the law and to argue that the considerations that ground this duty sometimes justify forms of civil disobedience. However, this view entails that certain kinds of uncivil disobedience are also justified. Thus, either a) civil disobedience is never justified or b) uncivil disobedience is sometimes justified. Since a) is implausible, we should accept b). I respond to the objection that this ignores the fact that civil disobedience enjoys a special normative status on account of instantiating certain special features: nonviolence, publicity, the acceptance of legal consequences, and conscientiousness. I then show that my view is superior to two rivals: the view that we should expand the notion of civility and that civil disobedience, expansively construed, is uniquely appropriate; and the view that uncivil disobedience is justifiable in but only in unfavorable conditions.
Keywords duty to obey the law  civil disobedience  uncivil disobedience  violence
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Upload history
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

Taking Rights Seriously.Ronald Dworkin (ed.) - 1977 - Duckworth.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Killing in War.Jeff McMahan - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
On the People’s Terms.Philip Pettit - 2012 - Political Theory 44 (5):697-706.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Civil Disobedience, Costly Signals, and Leveraging Injustice.Ten-Herng Lai - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Unruly Kids? Conceptualizing and Defending Youth Disobedience.Nikolas Mattheis - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091837.
Why Not Uncivil Disobedience?William E. Scheuerman - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-20.
The Ethics of Civil Resistance.William Smith - 2019 - Ethics and International Affairs 33 (3):363-373.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Civil Disobedience.Candice Delmas - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (11):681-691.
Ecosabotage and Civil Disobedience.Michael Martin - 1990 - Environmental Ethics 12 (4):291-310.
Ecosabotage and Civil Disobedience.Michael Martin - 1990 - Environmental Ethics 12 (4):291-310.
Rawls and Gandhi on Civil Disobedience.Vinit Haksar - 1976 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 19 (1-4):151 – 192.
Civil Disobedience and Its Ethical Meaning.Karolina Rozmarynowska - 2016 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 64 (2):63-77.
Introduction: Law and Disobedience.Peter Jones - 2004 - Res Publica 10 (4):319-336.
Disobedience, Civil and Otherwise.Candice Delmas - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (1):195-211.
The Burdens of Conviction: Brownlee on Civil Disobedience.William Smith - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (4):693-706.
Two Ways of Justifying Civil Disobedience.Richard W. Momeyer - 1979 - Philosophy Research Archives 5:356-367.
Is Ecosabotage Civil Disobedience?Jennifer Welchman - 2001 - Philosophy and Geography 4 (1):97 – 107.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,407 ( #1,992 of 2,330,829 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
529 ( #467 of 2,330,829 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes