Defining civil disobedience

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 21 (1-4):249 – 269 (1978)
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Abstract

Though all of the principal features of Rawls's definition of civil disobedience are in varying degrees unacceptable, one of these consists of the fertile but unargued suggestion that civil disobedience is a mode of address. The first half of the paper tests this by construing civil disobedience as a vehicle of non?natural meaning (but not necessarily of linguistic non?natural meaning) and so as operating the Gricean mechanism of a hierarchy of intentions and beliefs. This feature is absent from other definitions but is essential if other kinds of conscientious illegality are to be contrasted. In the second half a definition is arrived at through rejections or modifications of the other Rawlsian conditions and by reference to some recent accounts of force and violence. It is hoped that the definition has the double advantage of being broadly congruent with our intuitions and of supplying a theoretical underpinning for what it includes and excludes

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Citations of this work

Civil disobedience.Kimberley Brownlee & Candice Delmas - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Ethics of Government Whistleblowing.Candice Delmas - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (1):77-105.

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References found in this work

Taking rights seriously.Ronald Dworkin (ed.) - 1977 - London: Duckworth.
Meaning.Herbert Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions.H. Paul Grice - 1969 - Philosophical Review 78 (2):147-177.
Intention and convention in speech acts.Peter F. Strawson - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (4):439-460.

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