John Rawls Theory Of Civil Disobedience

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John Rawls develops civil disobedience as a way to fight against acts of injustice that occur in a nearly just society (Rawls, p. 363). Civil disobedience must be enacted to establish legitimate democratic authority, so it does not apply to other methods of protest such as military resistance (Rawls, p. 363). Rawls focuses on the conflict of duties between a person’s obligation to follow the laws put in place by the democratic majority, in contrast with their right to oppose unjust laws and fight for their personal liberties (Rawls, p. 363). Rawls defines civil disobedience as a “public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government”…show more content…
Rawls’ first principle of justice outlines that social institutions in a just society must aim for maximum equal liberty (Rawls, p. 82). His second principle, the difference principle, justifies inequality, but only when it maximally benefits those who are worse off (Rawls, pp. 65-66). Rawls ‘acknowledges that these principles are an oversimplification of distributive justice, but believes they should be applied to the basic structures of society (Rawls, p. 77). Rawls acknowledges that there needs to be regulations on when civil disobedience is justifiable. Civil disobedience should only be used in the most serious violations on the principle of equal liberty and clear violations on the principle of the principle of equality fair of opportunity (Rawls, p. 372). Whether Rawls’ principles of justice are being met is subjective, so even in a just society it is arguable as to if they are being met and to what extent they are being met (Rawls, p. 372). Raz’s first critique of Rawls theory of civil disobedience, questions the use of non-violence. Raz believes that non-violent disobedience can be drawn out compared to violence, and end up being more detrimental to society (Raz, p.…show more content…
364-365). Raz also draws critique against Rawls’ choice of words, because it is unclear whether Rawls is advocating that civil disobedience means having the right to do something, compared to doing the right thing (Raz, p. 160). One often legally has the right to do something, but that does not mean it is the just thing to do. This interpretation suggests that although civil disobedience can be justified, society does not have a right to it. In contrary, sometimes in order to do justice, a person will not have the legal right to do something necessary. This understanding implies that when civil disobedience is nonviolent and used as a last resort, it is a
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