Civil Disobedience – Not a Crime but a Punishable Political Action

In: Danish Yearbook of Philosophy

The article argues that civil disobedience must be perceived as an action with progressive and political significance, thus reflecting, from a Kantian perspective, the recognizable paradox between morality and law, as expressed in Kant’s moral and political writings. Hence, this article firstly analyzes on which grounds Kant claims rebellion to be unjust. Secondly, it examines how and if people, from a Kantian point of view, can defend themselves against an unjust sovereignty. On this basis, it argues that ‘civil disobedience’ can be juxtaposed with the Kantian idea of ‘freedom of the pen,’ thus having the same function as a political corrective. However, two questions are still to be answered, namely if civil disobedience must be punished, and if civil disobedience as a political corrective can be justified? By considering civil disobedience primarily as political agency, both questions are answered in the affirmative.

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