Candice Delmas

A Duty to Resist

When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil

Oxford University Press 2018

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According to a long tradition in political philosophy, there are certain conditions under which citizens may rightly disobey a law enacted by a legitimate...

According to a long tradition in political philosophy, there are certain conditions under which citizens may rightly disobey a law enacted by a legitimate political authority.  That is, it is common for political philosophers to recognize the permissibility of civil disobedience, even under broadly just political conditions.  There are, of course, longstanding debates over how to distinguish civil from uncivil disobedience, what forms civil disobedience may take, and the difference between civil disobedience and other kinds of principled lawbreaking (such as conscientious refusal).  Yet the consensus seems to be that whenever disobedience is permissible, it must also be enacted within the constraints of civility.

In her new book, A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil (Oxford University Press, 2018), Candice Delmas challenges this consensus.  She develops an argument according to which standard arguments for the general obligation to obey the law also permit forms of principled lawbreaking that go beyond standard constraints of civility.

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