Res Publica 23 (3):261-280 (2017)

Authors
Clare McCausland
University of Melbourne
Scott Brenton
La Trobe University
Abstract
Traditionally, acts of civil disobedience are understood as a mechanism by which citizens may express dissatisfaction with a law of their country. That expression will typically be morally motivated, non-violent and aimed at changing their government’s policy, practice or law. Building on existing work, in this paper we explore the limits of one well-received definition of civil disobedience by considering the challenging case of the actions of animal activists at sea. Drawing on original interviews with advocates associated with Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace and Humane Society International we find that even if animal activists are morally motivated and civil, the transnational nature of their activity makes it difficult to assess their intention to bring about a change in law or public policy. This means that a civil disobedience defence may not be available to activists operating across international borders. This raises important questions about the usefulness of the civil disobedience concept within the context of a globalised world. We conclude that while the actions of some anti-whaling activists may not meet definitions of civil disobedience as conventionally understood, this says more about the narrow way in which that concept has been traditionally defined, than it does about the type of activity some anti-whaling activists have undertaken in the Southern Ocean. Finally, we argue that activists wishing to make a stand against whaling may have no choice but to act as global citizens because policy change within a single nation-state is unlikely to lead to the cessation of this inherently transnational activity.
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-017-9361-6
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References found in this work BETA

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Political Liberalism by John Rawls. [REVIEW]Philip Pettit - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):215-220.
Practical Ethics.John Martin Fischer - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (2):264.

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Citations of this work BETA

Justifying Uncivil Disobedience.Ten-Herng Lai - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy 5:90-114.
Cosmopolitan Disobedience.Steve Cooke - forthcoming - Journal of International Political Theory:175508821985019.

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