Author(s): Tony Milligan
Civil disobedience is a form of protest with a special standing with regards to the law that sets it apart from political violence. Such principled law-breaking has been witnessed in recent years over climate change, economic strife, and the treatment of animals. Civil disobedience is examined here in the context of contemporary political activism, in the light of classic accounts by Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Gandhi to call for a broader attitude towards what civil disobedience involves. The question of violence is discussed, arguing that civil disobedience need only be aspirationally non-violent and that although some protests do not clearly constitute law-breaking they may render people liable to arrest. For example, while there may not be violence against persons, there may be property damage, as seen in raids upon animal laboratories. Such forms of militancy raise ethical and legal questions. Arguing for a less restrictive theory of civil disobedience, Civil Disobedience will be a valuable resource for anyone studying social movements and issues of political philosophy, social justice, and global ethics.
This work explores the concept of civil disobedience and its contemporary relevance through the examination of the current economic and environmental protests, and animal rights.
Tony Milligan is an Honorary Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He has published in a number of academic and popular journals, including Philosophy, Ratio, the Journal of Applied Ethics, Think and Philosophy Now.
1. The Very Idea of Civil Disobedience 2. The Justification Problem 3. The Problem of Reactionary Protest 4. Defending the Environment 5. Protest over Economic Issues 6. Law-Breaking in Defence of Other Creatures 7. The Problem of Violence Conclusion