Demands-of-Conviction Defence

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

Demands-of-Conviction Defence

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This chapter argues that there should be a recognized legal excuse for conviction-driven disobedience of the law. This excusatory defence is premised upon respect for personal autonomy and psychological integrity. Given the communicative, non-evasive nature of true conviction, this legal excuse applies more readily to civil disobedience than to personal disobedience. Recognition of the defence would allow society to honour the links between autonomy, psychological integrity, and conscientiousness by not requiring us either always to give priority to the law over our deep commitments or always to remain surreptitious and self-censoring in our efforts to dissociate from laws we oppose. The chapter responds to two objections to this legal defence for civil disobedience, which are the strategic action problem and the democracy problem.

Keywords: conviction; legal excuse; autonomy; psychological integrity; democracy

Chapter.  9664 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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