Civic Conscience, Selective Conscientious Objection and Lack of Choice

Ratio Juris 30 (4):433-450 (2017)

Abstract
Most democratic states tolerate, to various extents, conscientious objection. The same states tend not to tolerate acts of civil disobedience and what they perceive as selective conscientious objection. In this paper it is claimed that the dichotomy between civil disobedience and conscientious objection is often misguided; that the existence of a “civic conscience” makes it impossible to differentiate between conscientious objection and civil disobedience; and that there is no such thing as “selective” conscientious objection—or that classifying an objection as “selective” has no significant moral or practical implications. These claims are supported by a preliminary, more general argument according to which conscientious objection is and should be tolerated because the objector lacks the ability to choose his conscience and to decide whether to act upon it. The lack-of-choice argument, it is claimed, applies equally to all types of conscientious objection, including those that are mistakenly called “selective” objection. It also applies to one type of civil disobedience. As a result, if a state is willing to tolerate non-selective conscientious objection, it may and at times must also tolerate selective conscientious objection and civil disobedience and to a similar degree.
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DOI 10.1111/raju.12184
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The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Law's Empire.Ken Kress - 1986 - Ethics 97 (4):834-860.

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