Kimberley Brownlee

in Conscience and Conviction

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199592944
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746109 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Legal Philosophy


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Drawing on the previous discussion, this chapter explores the moral rights generated by conscience and conscientious conviction respectively. The chapter shows that the value of conscience generates a duty-based right that protects our ability to honour our special moral responsibilities. The chapter then looks at what is required to respect us as autonomous and expressive beings who can forge deep moral convictions. The chapter shows that the autonomy and dignity-related value of respecting conviction gives rise to two moral rights. These are a right to inner control and free thought and a limited moral right of conscientious action. It is argued that neither the right of conscience nor the right of conscientious action can be translated into a legal right, but nevertheless they should inform the analysis of how the law ought to respond to the disobedience they protect.

Keywords: moral rights; legal rights; free thought; free expression; civil disobedience; personal disobedience

Chapter.  15016 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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