Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Justifying civil disobedience : an essay on political protest in a constitutional democracy
Author: Smith, William
ISNI:       0000 0001 3468 9617
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2003
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
In this essay I examine whether and when civil disobedience -a principled and illegal act of political protest -is ever justifiable in a constitutional democracy. Using ideas from contemporary political philosophy, I develop a theory that forges a close connection between justifications of civil disobedience and the public political principles of a constitutional democracy. I argue that non-violent civil disobedience can be justified in any of the following three circumstances: (i) when citizens reasonably believe that law or policy violates rights, (ii) when citizens reasonably believe that law and policy should recognise and protect new rights, and (iii) when citizens reasonably believe that democratic decisions have been reached in an insufficiently deliberative fashion. Despite its illegality, justified civil disobedience represents one way in which good citizens can demonstrate fidelity to the principles that regulate political power, and one way in which they can try to close the gap between principle and practice in their societies. The account of civil disobedience developed in this thesis can be defended as (a) an original treatment of a recently neglected issue in political theory and (b) a plausible and relevant theory for ongoing conversations about the nature and role of political protest within representative democracies. In order to support these claims, throughout the thesis I apply some of the most recent developments in political theory to the old subject of political disobedience, and illustrate my arguments through referring to several recent cases of civil disobedience within representative democracies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory