Why, if at all, might civil disobedience be justified? (30 marks).
Civil Disobedience is when a faction of a society which is governed by popular consent believes that a new system of government or a change in the normal government is required. To this end the faction can/will either lawfully or unlawfully commit acts of rebellion/shows of resistance to the issue they object to.
Locke believes that civil disobedience is justifiable if the governments legitimate authority is questioned by the people, since he believes that we all consent to leaving the state of nature through a social contract with the Leviathan, a ruler or ruling body, which will ensure safety to all its subjects/citizens. This means that the people need to back the legitimacy of a governments authority over them. If this doesnt happen then civil disobedience is acceptable in a lockean ideology. This means that any form of civil disobedience is an show of lack of faith in the legitimacy of a governments authority. For example in Eygpt the people lost faith in the legitimacy of their governments authority and so they revolutionised their governing system so their social contract was fulfilled, where as it was not before the revolution as the government did not protect its people but instead killed and persecuted people. Since Locke believes that the Leviathan has been given all rights by the people we coul surmise that the right to civil disobedience has been forfeited too, but to reclaim a right ie the right to civil disobedience, would make you outside of the obligations of the social contract and so civil disobedience is then an option that is open to you. In conclusion Locke believes that Civil Disobedience is a justified end to ensuring your version of the social contract is upheld and so ensuring you never return to the state of nature, which the socal contract does.
However, some philosophers believe that Civil Disobedience leads to negative consequences for society, they believe that if civil disobedience is followed through to its greatest possibilities, ie complete revolution of a governing body, then the result will be a conflict between the two competing regimes and the people who follow them and so this will lead to deaths as actions and repercussions escalate. For example in Russia communist revolutionaries took control of Russia, which resulted in a confrontation between the communists and the army which led to deaths on both sides. But these consequences only occur if the civil disobedience is not lawful ie total revolution. If a lawful act of civil disobedience occurs then small changes may occur in a government system leading to a change in the social contract which may better it. In conclusion unlawful civil disobedience is wrong and unjustifiable but lawful acts of civil disobedience are acceptable as it allows for social contract that is agreed on by all members of a society.
Although, Dawkins believes that as a part of democracy civil disobedience is acceptable because democracy allows us to choose our government and so if the consenting or number of those who agree that civil disobedience is necessary is a majority then civil disobedience is acceptable as it conveys the choice of the people as is necessary in a social contract. For example he teacher strikes in England recently show how a majority of people in one area of employment took objection to pension changes made by the government and so showed their objection through legal civil disobedience. I think that legal civil disobedience is allowed by democratic systems of government because it follows their ideology, but also because if the objectors are allowed to express their dissent then they will not feel the need to completely change the system of government ie complete revolution. In conclusion, Dawkin proves that civil disobedience is justifiable in certain circumstances and can be accepted if not encouraged by some forms of government.
But, Rawls believes that civilly disobedient but only in reaction to a great injustice to the people, he also believes that this disobedience needs to be a proportionate and appropriate reaction that is equal to the injustice. For example the teacher strike only lasted one day so that they showed their objection but did not disrupt the lives of their students too severely. But civil disobedience is rarely easily controlled and so can easily become violent and so may not nor probably will not be appropriate or proportional to the injustice that caused the civil disobedience. For example the student riots in objection to tuition fee raises led to destruction of property and violence toward police. While Rawls appears to agree that civil disobedience is justified he also expresses the view that civil disobedience could become violent too quickly to fulfil the needed parameters for an appropriate and proportionate act of civil disobedience.