In the Theory of Justice by John Rawls, he defines civil disobedience,” I shall begin by defining civil disobedience as a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government”.
Rawls is saying civil disobedience is the refusal to obey certain laws; which are usually motivated by a need to change the policies and laws held by the government and state. Civil disobedient actions require publicity, nonviolence and conscientious breach made to the law they are trying to take down. Their aim is to bring about a change in laws or government policies. Civil disobedience is often intended to point out injustices in the law, and undermine the law’s effectiveness.
Civil disobedience differs from revolution in that you are being nonviolent, conscientious, and willing to accept legal consequences of their action. Civil disobedience is breaking of a law or laws, to bring attention to the public of its injustice and their motive is to force a change, to make the law just. Civil disobedience is done selflessly, not due to self-interest, but with the community’s best interest at heart. Civil disobedience is only an act against unjust laws, or laws that are thought to be unjust, and thus should be made just.
There are many features of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience according to Rawls must be political in nature; agents engaged in civil disobedience must be appealing to a “common conception of justice”. It is aimed at changing the law, thus, it is a method requiring political engagement. The goal of this is to bring the law into conformity with the theory of justice. In order to make it a particularly clear case of rejecting the outcome of the democratic process, it has to be made public. The actions are made not out of self or group interest but in the best interest of the society. Dissenters in civil disobedience will accept arrest and punishment, to communicate conscientiousness and sincerity, and fidelity to the law. The acts of civil disobedience are aimed in defending the principles of justice and establish conditions that are fair and equal to the community.
Civil obedience can be justified, because sometimes the law is just wrong, and there are things that we can do to change this law. Flaws do exist in almost all forms of government, and not all laws are made equal for everyone, and civil disobedience can call unjust laws to attention. Civil disobedience is justified if an individual disobeys a law to bring about positive change for the community. It can be justified when it aims to change an unjust law, a law that is clearly violating one’s rights;...