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Ten-Herng Lai
Australian National University
  1. Political Vandalism as Counter-Speech: A Defense of Defacing and Destroying Tainted Monuments.Ten-Herng Lai - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    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 (...)
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  2. Justifying Uncivil Disobedience.Ten-Herng Lai - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy 5:90-114.
    A prominent way of justifying civil disobedience is to postulate a pro tanto duty to obey the law and to argue that the considerations that ground this duty sometimes justify forms of civil disobedience. However, this view entails that certain kinds of uncivil disobedience are also justified. Thus, either a) civil disobedience is never justified or b) uncivil disobedience is sometimes justified. Since a) is implausible, we should accept b). I respond to the objection that this ignores the fact that (...)
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  3.  33
    Civil Disobedience, Costly Signals, and Leveraging Injustice.Ten-Herng Lai - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    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 (...)
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  4. Delmas, Candice. A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 312. $29.95. [REVIEW]Ten-Herng Lai - 2019 - Ethics 129 (4):710-715.
    Delmas successfully guides us to reconsider the traditional “wisdom” of civil disobedience. She also makes a strong case for expanding the notion of political obligation, which has been narrowly construed as mere obedience, to encompass a duty to resist. Principled disobedience, either civil or uncivil, includes a wide range of tools to tackle different forms of injustice, such as education campaigns, peaceful protests, graffiti street art, whistleblowing, vigilante self-defense, and political riots. We may question to what extent the violent disobedience (...)
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  5.  63
    Response to Umbers: An Instability of the Duty and Right to Vote.Ten-Herng Lai - 2020 - Res Publica 26 (2):275-280.
    Lachlan Umbers defends democracy against Jason’s Brennan’s competence objection, by showing that voting even incompetently does not violate the rights of others, as the risk imposed is negligible, and furthermore lower than other permissible actions, e.g. driving. I show there are costs in taking this line of argument. Accepting it would make arguing for the duty to vote more difficult in two ways: since voting incompetently is permissible, and not voting imposes less risk than not voting, then not voting is (...)
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