Disobedience, Dissent, and Freedom of Conscience

T. R. S. Allan

in Law, Liberty, and Justice

Published in print December 1994 | ISBN: 9780198259916
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682025 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Disobedience, Dissent, and Freedom of Conscience

Show Summary Details


The concept of individual autonomy, as a basic value protected by the rule of law, entails important limitations on governmental authority in relation to thought and expression. A truly autonomous person is one who exercises independent judgment in deciding how to act. He must regard himself as ‘sovereign’ in deciding what to believe and in weighing competing reasons for action. It is not legitimate to prohibit speech merely on the grounds that it may inculcate false beliefs or encourage people to attach greater weight to the value of performing certain harmful actions. One cannot retain the ability to judge the wisdom of a course of action if the state is permitted to censor the information necessary for independent judgment. And it is fundamental to autonomy that a citizen cannot acknowledge any duty to obey the state's decrees without due deliberation.

Keywords: individual autonomy; John Rawls; civil disobedience; jury; independent judgment; Lord Devlin; freedom of conscience; adjudication

Chapter.  12184 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.