Dissidents and Innocents: Hard Cases for a Political Philosophy of Boycotts

Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (4):560-574 (2018)
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Abstract

In this article, I distinguish boycotts from other kinds of superficially similar types of actions, and argue that boycotts involve at least coordinated activity on the part of the members of a group to abstain on moral grounds from otherwise normal interaction with the members of another group. Boycotts in their minimal forms do not face high justificatory hurdles, since they involve the exercise of freedom of speech, along with the exercise by members of the boycotting group of basic rights and freedoms, such as the right to associate, freedom of movement, and the like. The justificatory hurdles are greater, though not insurmountable, when boycotts involve the coercion of members of the boycotting group who either disagree with the grounds for boycott, or with the appropriateness of boycotting as a strategy to bring about a morally desirable change, or when they involve defeating the reasonable expectations of members of the boycotted group. I describe the justificatory challenges in both these cases, as well as the ways in which they can be met.

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Daniel Marc Weinstock
Université de Montréal

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