Necessity 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

Necessity Defence

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This chapter argues for the second of two legal defences for civil disobedience. This defence is a justificatory defence for (some) civil disobedience, grounded in necessity. The chapter fleshes out a pluralistic account of necessity, arguing that there should be a recognized family of necessity-based legal defences. In the context of conscientious disobedience, necessity lies in responding reasonably and parsimoniously to non-contingent basic needs. A necessity defence is not available to all people who could give moral arguments for their civil disobedience. The defence is restricted to those acts of civil disobedience that are taken in defence of non-contingent basic needs. The chapter answers two objections, which are the competition of values problem and the proportionality problem.

Keywords: necessity; proportionality; parsimony; competition of values; pluralism; justification

Chapter.  11880 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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