Disaggregating Political Authority: What's Wrong with Rawlsian Civil Disobedience

Political Studies (forthcoming)
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Abstract
John Rawls is a central figure in contemporary philosophical and theoretical discussions of civil disobedience, which hope to contribute to significant political debates around when and in which forms political dissent, protest and resistance are appropriate. Ignoring the frame in which Rawls discusses civil disobedience has led critics to wrongly attack his theory for being too restrictive when it is more likely to be too permissive. That permissiveness depends on treating any political order which does not come close to fulfilling his theory of justice as absolutely illegitimate. In this sense, Rawls’ theory of political authority is binary and demanding. The problems his theory shares with most others, including his critics’, show that political authority needs to be disaggregated to make sense of the conditions under which different forms of protest and resistance are appropriate.
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Archival date: 2019-02-08
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