Comparing Crito And King's Argument Against Civil Disobedience

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In the Crito by Plato, Socrates argues against civil disobedience, seeing it as an unjust act. Contrasting this view, Martin Luther King argues for civil disobedience against unjust laws, and seeing it as a responsibility of citizens. Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain law, commands or requests of the government. I will argue that the view of Socrates is superior to the view of Martin Luther King on the justness of civil disobedience. Using the argument against harm, I will show that even if a law is viewed as unjust, you must not repay an evil with another evil, as evident in the Crito while contrary to ideas presented by MLK. I will also show that civil disobedience is an action in which it is probable that anarchy will …show more content…

It can be claimed that it is true that we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust law, however, in doing so is unjust in itself. Taking into account the argument against harm and that one accepts that doing good is just, we must never intentionally do wrong. It is also true in this case when we are harmed, we must not return a harm for a harm. If these statements are true, in that they are good and just, then civil disobedience must be an unjust act. If doing harm to the law we deem unjust through an act of civil disobedience is considered an evil act, and to do good is to be just, then harming the law is an unjust action. However, it could also be argued that civil disobedience is beneficial to ridding a society of unjust law. If there is law, you have a duty as a citizen to obey the law or you may try to convince those in charge to change them. If using civil disobedience is a method of convincing others to change unjust law, civil disobedience must be unjust. If it is true that being a citizen of a society binds you to obeying the laws, and civil disobedience is an act which breaks the law, then it is not just for …show more content…

One of the criticisms faced by MLK, is that although his demands for justice are made in a peaceful manner, will provoke violence in others. It is claimed that there is irony in this statement, that peaceful actions can lead to violence. However, we must observe the truth in the statement made by the people of Birmingham. Anarchy, by definition, is a state of disorder in which there is a lack of authority or a complete disregard of it. In Martin Luther King's act of civil disobedience, he is disregarding the authority that is the law in Birmingham. If we were to follow in the footsteps of MLK and disregard the laws we deem unjust, it is probable that this will lead to anarchy. Following this possibility, we can direct towards another claim made by MLK, in which without direct action there will be no change. From what can be extrapolated from Socrates in Crito, if one were to disregard the opinion of the many and follow the opinion of the 'expert', one would be better off and more knowledgeable. Martin Luther King can be viewed as an 'expert' on the matter of civil disobedience through direct action. Therefore, in theory, it is best to listen to the statement made by MLK that change to unjust laws can only occur through direct action, not through negotiation. However, we must observe that also

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