Recent political upheavals in several of the world’s established democracies have sparked discussions about dissent and disobedience not seen since the 1960s. When, if ever, are citizens in a democracy justified in breaking the law to protest or resist what they believe to be bad, unjust, or illegitimate laws or policies? When, if ever, are public officials in a democracy justified in undermining or refusing to enforce such laws or policies? This course will study important examples of principled disobedience in democracies, and explore normative arguments for and against various strategies of unlawful dissent through the close reading of texts in political and legal philosophy. In the major written assignment of the course, students will argue for or against a proposed, ongoing, or recent case of principled disobedience by public officials or citizens in a democratic state.
Also offered by the FAS General Education Department as Gen Ed 1035.