Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2013 Christina R. Noriega
Though ultimately seeking more just law, civil disobedience still entails the breaching of a law. For this reason, most theories hold that people who practice civil disobedience must be willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions. On the other hand, a nation that is truly committed to justice will recognize that its constitution and legal order may in some ways fall short of perfect justice. In this thesis, I defend Rawls’s theory of civil disobedience as unique in its capacity for justification and even government toleration. Appealing to a shared conception of justice, Rawlsian civil disobedients are able to ground their actions in the same principles to which the state is committed. I argue that Rawls’s shared conception of justice is further substantiated when read in the light of his later theory of the overlapping consensus of comprehensive doctrines. I ultimately conclude that civil disobedience construed in the Rawlsian sense ought to receive some degree of toleration by the state, and particularly by constitutional states which maintain a formal commitment to justice in the protection of rights and intentional design of government institutions.
Noriega, Christina R., "Rawlsian Foundations for Justification and Toleration of Civil Disobedience" (2013). Scripps Senior Theses. 232.
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