Political Resistance: A Matter of Fairness

Law and Philosophy 33 (4):465-488 (2014)
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In this paper, I argue that the principle of fairness can license both a duty of fair play, which is used to ground a moral duty to obey the law in just or nearly just societies, and a duty of resistance to unfair and unjust social schemes. The first part of the paper analyzes fairness’ demands on participants in mutually beneficial schemes of coordination, and its implications in the face of injustice. Not only fairness does not require complying with unfair and unjust social schemes, but it also prohibits benefiting from such schemes. I use the case of racial segregation in the U.S. to illustrate this latter argument, and consider some objections to my investigation, given the availability and straightforwardness of justice. The second part of the paper elaborates the argument for the duty to resist. The Radical Reform argument first establishes, by elimination of the alternatives (exit and restitution), that the principal way for citizens to cease benefiting from an unfair and unjust social scheme is to radically reform it. The Resistance Argument then shows that resistance is crucial to bring about reform, so that one ought to resist unfair and unjust schemes from which one benefits. Next, I offer two arguments for collective resistance and political solidarity, one based on empirical considerations and the other based on fairness. Finally, I consider the costs of the resistance efforts which fairness may require



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Candice Delmas
Northeastern University

Citations of this work

Environmental Activism and the Fairness of Costs Argument for Uncivil Disobedience.Ten-Herng Lai & Chong-Ming Lim - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (3):490-509.
Justifying Uncivil Disobedience.Ten-Herng Lai - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy 5:90-114.
Civil Disobedience.Candice Delmas - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (11):681-691.

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References found in this work

Discrimination.Andrew Altman - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Legal obligation and the duty of fair play.John Rawls - 1964 - In Sidney Hook (ed.), Law and Philosophy. New York University Press.
Oppressions: Racial and other.S. Haslanger - forthcoming - Racism in Mind:97--123.
Exploitation.Allen W. Wood - 1995 - Social Philosophy and Policy 12 (2):136--158.
Letter from a Birmingham jail.Martin Luther King Jr - 2000 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press USA.

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