Competing Moral Grounds:
The Absence of Clear Priorities
Part II of this book explored basic grounds for a moral duty to obey the law as such. Though the analysis has failed to yield any single ground of duty to obey all laws, or all just laws, on every occasion of their application, it has established multiple grounds for obedience in various circumstances.
In Part III, I turn to the claims to disobey outlined roughly in Chapter 3 and inquire as to how a person may resolve conflicts between these and moral reasons for compliance, including independent moral grounds to do what the law demands and whatever grounds for obeying the law as such apply. I also discuss possible limits on the occasions for and tactics of disobedience, including the troubling question when, if ever, violent acts of disobedience are warranted. The investigations in this part lead to rejection of many sharp lines that have sometimes been proposed as dividing the morally permissible from the morally impermissible. Although decisions concerning whether and how to disobey the law often involve delicate judgments that cannot be captured by rigid categorizations, some signposts to identify critical features do exist.
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Publication information: Book title: Conflicts of Law and Morality. Contributors: Kent Greenawalt - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 207.
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