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Pols 250 Fall term reading notes part 3 John Rawls and Andrew Sabl on Civil Disobedience.docx

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Political Studies
POLS 250
Colin Farrelly

Pols 250 Fall term reading notes part 3 (John Rawls and Andrew Sable on Civil Disobedience) John Rawls: Civil Disobedience  Theory designed for a nearly just democratic society  Problem of civil disobedience arises only within a democracy where citizens recognize and accept the constitution as legitimate.  The difficulty is that there could be a conflict of duties o At what point does the duty of abiding by the laws become less important than defending personal freedoms and opposing injustice?  Involves the understanding of nature and limits majority rule.  Theory of civil disobedience as 3 parts o 1) Defines CD and separate it from other kinds of opposition. o 2) sets the ground for CD and the conditions under which it Is justified o 3) Explains the role of CD within the system and accounts for its appropriateness.  Civil disobedience is defined as a public, nonviolent conscientious yet political act contrary to te law that is done to evoke change in the policy. o Public-compare it to public speech o Nonviolent- any interference with civil liberties of others will detract from the civilly disobedient quality of one’s act  CD is not a threat, there is a willingness to accept consequence  Two types of civil disobedience o Direct-Directly contest a law by violating it o Indirect- Law being broken is not the one you’re trying to change. Public demonstration for something one can’t directly break.  CD is a political act in the sense that it is o Addressed to the majority that holds political power o Guided and justified by political principles/principles of justice  In justifying Civil disobedience, one invokes a commonly shared conception of justice that underlies the political order.  We pay a certain price to convince others that our actions have a sufficient moral basis in the political convictions of the community.  Civil disobedience as justified o Kind of wrongs being protested  Ex. Violation of basic rights o Attempt to work through legal system have been made and failed o Conditions for more than one minority to engage in CD  Could make cause appear to be anarchic and therefore ineffective Andrew Sabl: Civil disobedience- Looking forward to the future  Defends the forward looking justification of Civil disobedience and uses it to clear up paradoxes  Rawls definition: Public, non-violent political act with the aim of brining change involving the address of sense of the justice of the majority. o Moral appeal rather than pure coercion  2 parts that appear in tension\ o Disobedience- deliberate violation of the law o Civil- citizens that should be abiding by the law  Paradox of non-violence o Why should the maltreated group assume that those who treat it tyrannically have good will or fairness?  Rawls doesn’t require it, but without optimism civility in resistance might be poorly grounded.  If others are violent and don’t treat us fairly, violent responses seem more justified and natural.  Paradox of residual obligation o If a regime deprives basic rights, why does the population have any form of obligation? o Limited violence ending in revolution might seem more prudent/ just than CD. o So why does injustice that justifies CD not justify a revolution.  Paradox of residual obligation solved o Anything that justifies revolution justifies CD o Problem: anyone willing to deprive fellow citizens of basic rights isn’t likely to act fairly. o Leaders might need to be brought down, reevaluation might lead to revolution. o There is evidence that cooperation with former oppressors is possible and desirable.  CD is based on the desire not to foreclose future cooperation rather than current obligation.  Conditions for CD: The piecewise-just society) o CD is not always viable o To the extent that totalitarian tyrants can be influenced by violence, non-violent actions are not CD  There is no moral persuasion intended. Objective: make governance impossible o At what point does armed resistance become inappropriate and CD appropriate, in response to systematic injustice.  Rawls-regime must be nearly just  But those such as King, Ghandi or Thoreau think of their regimes as just/legit
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