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Peter Hare, Joseph Palencik, Douglas Anderson, and Steven A. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264322

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 01 August 2021

Reflections on Civil Disobedience

Reflections on Civil Disobedience

(p.245) Seventeen Reflections on Civil Disobedience
Pragmatism with Purpose

Edward H. Madden

Fordham University Press

This chapter reflects on the concept of civil disobedience. It comments on the tendency of some authors to generalize “civil disobedience” until it loses any special designation and becomes vacuously synonymous with “disobedience to any authority,” and of other authors to restrict the concept to one of various types of action, all of which ordinarily would be called cases of civil disobedience. It outlines a number of criteria for acts of civil disobedience and challenges the notion that the concept of civil disobedience must be restricted to nonviolent acts, insisting that it ignores the difficulty of finding a precise dividing line between “violence” and “noviolence” as well as the facts of usage. It also discusses the two most important justifications of civil disobedience: the Higher Law doctrine and some version of natural or human rights. Finally, it considers Abe Fortas's justification of nonviolent dissent.

Keywords:   civil disobedience, violence, noviolence, Higher Law doctrine, natural rights, human rights, Abe Fortas, dissent

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