Kimberley Brownlee, "Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience" (Oxford UP, 2012)


When confronted with a law that they find morally unconscionable, citizens sometimes engage in civil disobedience - they publicly break the law with a view to communicating their judgment that it is unjust. Citizens in similar situations sometimes take a different stance - they engage in conscientious objection, they quietly disobey, seeking only to keep their own conscience clear. A common view of these matters has it that the conscientious objector is deserving of special respect, and even accommodation, whereas the civil disobedient engages in a politically risky and morally questionable practice. In her new book, Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience (Oxford University Press, 2012) Kimberley Brownlee reverses this picture. She contends that properly-conducted civil disobedience is more deserving of accommodation and respect than conscientious objection. Her case turns on a detailed and subtle analysis of the very concepts of conviction and conscience.

Your Host

Robert Talisse

Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

View Profile