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Brownlee, Kimberley. Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience
2012, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Carl Fox
Publisher’s Note:

This book shows that civil disobedience is more defensible than private conscientious objection. Part I distinguishes conviction from conscience, shedding light on the former as something non-evasive and communicative, and on the latter as something much richer, namely, genuine moral responsiveness. Each of these concepts informs a distinct argument for civil disobedience. 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 a strategic, 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 lawful punishment, showing that, even when punishment is justifiable, civil disobedients have a moral right not to be punished.

Comment: An original approach to the morality of civil disobedience and the question of what protections should be enshrined in law for adherence to the dictates of one's conscience. Particularly interesting because the author argues that a stronger case can be made for permitting and protecting public civil disobedience than can be made for private conscientious objection.

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Chong-Ming Lim. Vandalizing tainted commemorations
2020, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1-32
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: What should we do about “tainted” public commemorations? Recent events have highlighted the urgency of reaching a consensus on this question. However, existing discussions appear to be dominated by two naïve opposing views – to remove or preserve them. My aims in this essay are two-fold. First, I argue that the two views are not naïve, but undergirded by concerns with securing self-respect and with the character of our engagement with the past. Second, I offer a qualified defence of vandalising tainted commemorations. The defence comprises two parts. I consider two prominent suggestions – to install counter-commemorations and to add contextualising plaques – and argue that they are typically beset with difficulties. I then argue that in some circumstances, constrained vandalism is a response to tainted commemorations which effectively adjudicates the demands of the two opposing views

Comment: Overview of the controversies surrounding problematic statues. Useful as starting grounds for discussing other issues.

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Lai, Ten-Herng. Civil Disobedience, Costly Signals, and Leveraging Injustice
2021, Ergo 7(40): 1083-1108
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Civil disobedience, despite its illegal nature, can sometimes be justified vis-à-vis the duty to obey the law, and, arguably, is thereby not liable to legal punishment. However, adhering to the demands of justice and refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience may lead to a highly problematic theoretical consequence: the debilitation of civil disobedience. This is because, according to the novel analysis I propose, civil disobedience primarily functions as a costly social signal. It is effective by being reliable, reliable by being costly, and costly primarily by being punished. My analysis will highlight a distinctive feature of civil disobedience: civil disobedients leverage the punitive injustice they suffer to amplify their communicative force. This will lead to two paradoxical implications. First, the instability of the moral status of both civil disobedience and its punishment to the extent where the state may be left with no permissible course of action with regard to punishing civil disobedience. Second, by refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience, the state may render uncivil disobedience—illegal political activities that fall short of the standards of civil disobedience—potentially permissible.

Comment: Talks about civil disobedience, especially on how its punishment can be problematic.

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Lai, Ten-Herng. Political vandalism as counter-speech: A defense of defacing and destroying tainted monuments
2020, European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):602-616
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract:

Tainted political symbols ought to be confronted, removed, or at least recontextualized. Despite the best efforts to achieve this, however, official actions on tainted symbols often fail to take place. In such cases, I argue that political vandalism—the unauthorized defacement, destruction, or removal of political symbols—may be morally permissible or even obligatory. This is when, and insofar as, political vandalism serves as fitting counter-speech that undermines the authority of tainted symbols in ways that match their publicity, refuses to let them speak in our name, and challenges the derogatory messages expressed through a mechanism I call derogatory pedestalling: the glorification or honoring of certain individuals or ideologies that can only make sense when members of a targeted group are taken to be inferior.

Comment: For topics on debates regarding monuments, statues, commemorations etc. There are many papers on this topic, but this one is among the few that directly engages with the justifiability of vandalism as a form of activism. May also fit courses on activism, racism, and speech act theory.

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