Krisis 3:3-15 (2012)

Alejandra Mancilla
University of Oslo
Given the conceptual gap in the global justice debate today (where most of the talk is about the duties of the rich, but little is said about what the poor may do for themselves), in this article I reintroduce the idea of a right of necessity. I first delineate a normative framework for such a right, inspired by these historical accounts. I then offer a contemporary case where the exercise of the right of necessity would be morally legitimate according to that framework – even though illegal and probably condemned by the standard moral norms. The case is that of a small group of Paraguayan campesinos (small farmers) suffering from the effects of a severe drought. In the third part, I introduce the concept of noncivil disobedience: I call an act of noncivil disobedience a conscientious, public, illegal and forcible act whose performance, while not necessarily intended directly as a means to bring about social and/or political change, may help to trigger these changes indirectly. In the fourth part, I suggest that certain instances where the right of necessity is overtly exercised – as in the case of the famine-struck Paraguayan campesinos – may also be interpreted in terms of noncivil disobedience, insofar as they serve a double function: as a means of satisfying immediate need, and as a marker of discontent in a society where the equal rights of individuals are a nominal ideal which remains unfulfilled in practice. I then address two objections that may be raised against resurrecting the idea of a right of necessity and identifying it in certain instances with noncivil disobedience. I conclude by suggesting that, at the point of convergence between the two, a basic right like the right of necessity recovers its value as an active, (rather than passive) entitlement of its holders, while the use of force enters the picture as a legitimate means that – at least under certain circumstances – may be resorted to within the limits of civil society.
Keywords civil disobedience  right of necessity  Paraguay  basic rights
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References found in this work BETA

On Civil Disobedience.Hugo A. Bedau - 1961 - Journal of Philosophy 58 (21):653-665.
Moral Judgment, Historical Reality, and Civil Disobedience.David Lyons - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1):31-49.
The Justifiability of Violent Civil Disobedience.John Morreall - 1976 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):35 - 47.

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