What is the difference between civil and uncivil disobedience? How can illegal protest be compatible with a democratic regime based on the rule of law? Is Edward Snowden a civil disobedient? This book follows the philosophical debate around these and other issues, showing how the notion of civil disobedience has evolved from a form of passive resistance against injustice, to an active way to engage with the political life of the community. The author presents the major contributions in political and legal philosophy, ranging from John Rawls’ seminal account in 1971, to the recent views advanced by Kimberley Brownlee, David Lefkowitz and William Smith. In the last chapter, the author proposes a novel account of civil disobedience, able to meet some of the unresolved challenges. The author argues that, to make sense of civil disobedience, we should expand our conception of political obligation, so to include acts that, despite being illegal, may reveal the agent’s civility.
Chapter 1. What’s Wrong with Disobedience?
Chapter 2. The Concept of Civility
Chapter 3. Disagreement and Civility
Chapter 4. Nonviolence and Civility
Chapter 5. The Moral Right to Civil Disobedience
Chapter 6. Political Obligation: ‘Inside-Out’ Vs. ‘Outside-In’
There has been a quiet renaissance in the philosophy of civil disobedience. Moraro offers a masterful survey of the emerging debates, showing how a new generation of political theorists is grappling with challenges posed by a new generation of political protesters. This is a superb primer for anyone wishing to understand civil disobedience in the twenty-first century.
There is much to admire in this book. In addition to providing a much needed introduction to the most recent philosophical discussion of civil disobedience, Moraro outlines an original account that grounds the value of this practice in certain aspects of virtue ethics. Moraro succeeds in appealing both to students and more experienced readers by discussing complex problems while writing in an accessible and engaging style. Highly recommended.
Piero Moraro’s book provides a useful and analytically clear introduction to the philosophical literature on political obligation and civil disobedience. By emphasizing agents’ moral dispositions rather than their acts, Moraro defends a nuanced virtue-ethical account of the duty to respect the law, which citizens may sometimes satisfy by engaging in civil disobedience.
Piero Moraro is a lecturer in Justice Studies at Charles Sturt University.