Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience

Paperback | November 19, 2015

byKimberley Brownlee

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Oxford Legal Philosophy publishes the best new work in philosophically-oriented legal theory. It commissions and solicits monographs in all branches of the subject, including works on philosophical issues in all areas of public and private law, and in the national, transnational, andinternational realms; studies of the nature of law, legal institutions, and legal reasoning; treatments of problems in political morality as they bear on law; and explorations in the nature and development of legal philosophy itself. The series represents diverse traditions of thought but alwayswith an emphasis on rigour and originality. It sets the standard in contemporary jurisprudence.This book shows that civil disobedience is generally more defensible than private conscientious objection.Part I explores the morality of conviction and conscience. Each of these concepts informs a distinct argument for civil disobedience. The conviction argument begins with the communicative principle of conscientiousness (CPC). According to the CPC, having a conscientious moral conviction means notjust acting consistently with our beliefs and judging ourselves and others by a common moral standard. It also means not seeking to evade the consequences of our beliefs and being willing to communicate them to others. The conviction argument shows that, as a constrained, communicative practice,civil disobedience has a better claim than private objection does to the protections that liberal societies give to conscientious dissent. This view reverses the standard liberal picture which sees private 'conscientious' objection as a modest act of personal belief and civil disobedience as astrategic, undemocratic act whose costs are only sometimes worth bearing.The conscience argument is narrower and shows that genuinely morally responsive civil disobedience honours the best of our moral responsibilities and is protected by a duty-based moral right of conscience.Part II translates the conviction argument and conscience argument into two legal defences. The first is a demands-of-conviction defence. The second is a necessity defence. Both of these defences apply more readily to civil disobedience than to private disobedience. Part II also examines lawfulpunishment, showing that, even when punishment is justifiable, civil disobedients have a moral right not to be punished.

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Oxford Legal Philosophy publishes the best new work in philosophically-oriented legal theory. It commissions and solicits monographs in all branches of the subject, including works on philosophical issues in all areas of public and private law, and in the national, transnational, andinternational realms; studies of the nature of law, l...

Kimberley Brownlee is an Associate Professor in Legal and Moral Philosophy. Before joining the University of Warwick in 2012, she was a Senior Lecturer in Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of Manchester. She has been a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University (2008); an HLA ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.6 inPublished:November 19, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198759460

ISBN - 13:9780198759461

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Table of Contents

IntroductionI. Morality1. Conviction2. Conscience3. Responsibilities4. RightsII. Law5. Demands-of-Conviction Defence6. Necessity Defence7. Dialogue8. Punishment

Editorial Reviews

"Kimberley Brownlee's fine book... celebrates civil disobedience as a potentially vital element in a healthy liberal democracy. She confronts a wide range of the standard objections with confidence, care, clarity and argumentative rigour... her book should become a key work to consult on thetopic." --C.A.J. Coady, The Journal of Value Inquiry