Justice against Legality: Theory of Civil Disobedience and Liberal Political Thought Cover Image

Teisingumas Prieš Teisëtumą: Pilietinio Nepaklusnumo Teorija Ir Liberalizmo Filosofija
Justice against Legality: Theory of Civil Disobedience and Liberal Political Thought

Author(s): Gražina Miniotaitė
Subject(s): Civil Law, Social Philosophy, Philosophy of Law, Sociology of Law
Published by: Visuomeninė organizacija »LOGOS«
Keywords: civil disobedience; liberal philosophy; theory of justice; civil obligation;

Summary/Abstract: The paper tackles the problem of civil disobedience in the context of the individual's relation to political authority. In the first half of the paper it is shown that the theoretical justification of civil disobedience is based on the liberal tradition of political philosophy (John Locke, Immanuel Kant). This is the tradition that is emphasizing the priority of moral equality and individual freedom over other political values. Of particular importance in the genesis of the idea of civil disobedience is the Kantian social philosophy. The main demands of civil disobedience, such as the nonviolent nature of the acts of disobedience, their publicity, and violation of a law while paying respect to the law in general, are all based on the Kantian conception of the human person as an end in itself. The second half of the paper is an examination of the ways the classical liberal ideas of political duty have been transformed in the works of such practitioners of civil disobedience as Henry Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi. The paper concludes with an analysis of the concept of civil disobedience in John Rawls theory of justice as fairness. Rawls, in developing the liberal ideas of Locke and Kant, considers civil disobedience as a normal feature of developed constitutional democracies, as an offshoot of developed political culture. Civil disobedience is a particular form of political action aimed at influencing political decision-making and protecting individual rights from the encroachments of democratic politics. It appeals to the shared principles of political justice or, in the Kantian idiom, to the regulative social ideal.

  • Issue Year: 2009
  • Issue No: 58
  • Page Range: 54-62
  • Page Count: 9
  • Language: Lithuanian