Environmental Activism and the Fairness of Costs Argument for Uncivil Disobedience

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (3):490-509 (2023)
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Social movements often impose nontrivial costs on others against their wills. Civil disobedience is no exception. How can social movements in general, and civil disobedience in particular, be justifiable despite this apparent wrong-making feature? We examine an intuitively plausible account—it is fair that everyone should bear the burdens of tackling injustice. We extend this fairness-based argument for civil disobedience to defend some acts of uncivil disobedience. Focusing on uncivil environmental activism—such as ecotage (sabotage with the aim of protecting the environment)—we argue that some acts of uncivil disobedience can be morally superior to their civil counterparts, when and because such acts target people who are responsible for environmental threats. Indeed, insofar as some acts of uncivil disobedience can more accurately target responsible people, they can better satisfy the demands of fairness compared to their civil counterparts. In some circumstances, our argument may require activists to engage in uncivil disobedienceeven whencivil disobedience is available.

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Author Profiles

Ten-Herng Lai
University of Stirling
Chong-Ming Lim
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Citations of this work

The Epistemic Dimensions of Civil Disobedience.Alexander Bryan - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
On Covert Civil Disobedience and Animal Rescue.Daniel Weltman - 2023 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 25 (2).
Økoargumentet for sivil ulydighet – en kritikk.Espen Dyrnes Stabell - 2023 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 58 (1):70-75.

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References found in this work

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Taking Rights Seriously.Ronald Dworkin - 1979 - Mind 88 (350):305-309.
Vandalizing Tainted Commemorations.Chong-Ming Lim - 2020 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 48 (2):185-216.

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