On Civil Disobedience is another common title. The word civil has several definitions.
In his essay, Thoreau observes that only a very few people — heroes, martyrs, patriots, reformers in the best sense — serve their society with their consciences, and so necessarily resist society for the most part, and are commonly treated by it as enemies.
Thoreau, for his part, spent time in jail for his protest. Many after him have proudly identified their protests as acts of civil disobedience and have been treated by their societies — sometimes temporarily, sometimes indefinitely — as its enemies.
The ultimate impact of more recent acts of civil disobedience — anti-abortion trespass demonstrations or acts of disobedience taken as part of the environmental movement and animal rights movement — remains to be seen.
Certain features of civil disobedience seem vital not only to its impact on societies and governments, but also to its status as a potentially justifiable breach of law.
Civil disobedience is generally regarded as more morally defensible than Civil disobediance ordinary offences and other forms of protest such as militant action or coercive violence. Before contrasting civil disobedience with both ordinary offences and other types of protest, attention should Civil disobediance given to the features exemplified in the influential cases noted above.
These features include, amongst other things, a conscientious or principled outlook and the communication of both condemnation and a desire for change in law or policy. Other features commonly cited — publicity, non-violence, fidelity to law — will also be considered here though they prove to Civil disobediance less central than is sometimes assumed.
This feature, highlighted in almost all accounts of civil disobedience, points to the seriousness, sincerity and moral conviction with which civil disobedients breach the law. For many disobedients, their breach of law is demanded of them not only by self-respect and moral consistency but also by their perception of the interests of their society.
Through their disobedience, they draw attention to laws or policies that they believe require reassessment or rejection. Whether their challenges are well-founded is another matter, which will be taken up in Section 2. The activism of Martin Luther King Jr.
King was motivated by his religious convictions and his commitments to democracy, equality, and justice to undertake protests such as the Montgomery bus boycott. Rawls maintains that, while he does not know whether King thought of himself as fulfilling the purpose of the proviso, King could have fulfilled it; and had he accepted public reason he certainly would have fulfilled it.
Since people can undertake political protest for a variety of reasons, civil disobedience sometimes overlaps with other forms of dissent. A US draft-dodger during the Vietnam War might be said to combine civil disobedience and conscientious objection in the same action.
And, most famously, Gandhi may be credited with combining civil disobedience with revolutionary action.
In civilly disobeying the law, a person typically has both forward-looking and backward-looking aims. She seeks not only to convey her disavowal and condemnation of a certain law or policy, but also to draw public attention to this particular issue and thereby to instigate a change in law or policy.
A parallel may be drawn between the communicative aspect of civil disobedience and the communicative aspect of lawful punishment by the state Brownlee ; Like civil disobedience, lawful punishment is associated with a backward-looking aim to demonstrate condemnation of certain conduct as well as a forward-looking aim to bring about a lasting change in that conduct.
The forward and backward-looking aims of punishment apply not only to the particular offence in question, but also to the kind of conduct of which this offence is an example.
There is some dispute over the kinds of policies that civil disobedients may target through their breach of law. Some exclude from the class of civilly disobedient acts those breaches of law that protest the decisions of private agents such as trade unions, banks, private universities, etc.
Others, by contrast, maintain that disobedience in opposition to the decisions of private agents can reflect a larger challenge to the legal system that permits those decisions to be taken, which makes it appropriate to place this disobedience under the umbrella of civil disobedience Brownlee ; There is more agreement amongst thinkers that civil disobedience can be either direct or indirect.
In other words, civil disobedients can either breach the law they oppose or breach a law which, other things being equal, they do not oppose in order to demonstrate their protest against another law or policy. Trespassing on a military base to spray-paint nuclear missile silos in protest against current military policy would be an example of indirect civil disobedience.
It is worth noting that the distinction often drawn between direct civil disobedience and indirect civil disobedience is less clear-cut than generally assumed.From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes Civil Disobedience Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays.
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and . Civil Desobedience Henry David Thoreau wrote the essay Civil Disobedience to show his opposition to slavery and American imperialism.
His essay has influenced many prominent civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau's essay Civil Disobedience or Resistance to Civil Government, published in , is a call to arms similar to the stances that people like Parks and 4/5.
From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes Civil Disobedience Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays. Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law rather than a rejection of the system as a whole.
The civil disobedient, finding legitimate avenues of change blocked or nonexistent, feels obligated by a higher, extralegal principle to break some specific law. Some people may think that civil disobedience is a thing of the past, a kind of action limited to historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, or Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.