Politically Motivated Property Damage


Can politically inspired property damage or destruction be justified? This question is hardly of mere academic interest, in light of recent political protests in Hong Kong, the USA, and elsewhere. Against some contemporary writers, I argue that placing property damage under an open-ended rubric of uncivil disobedience does not generate the necessary conceptual and normative distinctions. Drawing on Martin Luther King, Jr., I instead argue that property damage should not be equated or conflated with violence against persons; it also takes a variety of quite different forms. Anyone hoping to pursue politically motivated property damage should meet preconditions whose stringency will be determined by a key question: Do their acts generate or at least plausibly relate to violence against persons? Our answer to the question provide some space for legitimate, politically motivated property damage. Although some theories of property resist the strict delineation of violence to persons from property damage I defend, they fail to capture the realities of property ownership in existing societies, including the USA and, as such, do not undermine my defense, under existing conditions, of limited property damage.

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,805

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

9 (#958,729)

6 months
3 (#197,616)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

“Political Disobedience and the Climate Emergency”.William E. Scheuerman - 2021 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (6):791-812.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

‘Losses in Any Event’ in the Case of Damage to Property.Samuel Beswick - 2015 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 35 (4):755-775.
“Political Disobedience and the Climate Emergency”.William E. Scheuerman - 2021 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (6):791-812.
A Critique of Moral Education in the Social Studies.Richard M. Merelman - 1979 - Journal of Moral Education 8 (3):182-192.
Grading Arson.Michael T. Cahill - 2009 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 3 (1):79-95.
A Politically Viable Aspiration?Thad Williamson - 2012 - In T. Williamson (ed.), Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 287.
Are Theories Politically Flexible?Federico Brandmayr - 2021 - Sociological Theory 39 (2):103-125.
Justice and the Initial Acquisition of Property.John T. Sanders - 1987 - Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 10 (2):367-99.
What Does Politically Correct Mean?Dong Leshan - 1997 - Chinese Studies in Philosophy 28 (3):40-43.
Mathias Absoluteness and the Ramsey Property.Lorenz Halbeisen & Haim Judah - 1996 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 61 (1):177-194.