Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 179–192

The communicative aspects of civil disobedience and lawful punishment

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11572-006-9015-9

Cite this article as:
Brownlee, K. Criminal Law, Philosophy (2007) 1: 179. doi:10.1007/s11572-006-9015-9


A parallel may be drawn between the communicative aspect of civil disobedience and the communicative aspect of lawful punishment by the state. In punishing an offender, the state seeks to communicate both its condemnation of the crime committed and its desire for repentance and reformation on the part of the offender. Similarly, in civilly disobeying the law, a disobedient seeks to convey both her condemnation of a certain law or policy and her desire for recognition that a lasting change in policy is required. When disobedients and authorities target each other, their confrontation allows for a direct comparison of the respective justifiability of their conduct. Their confrontation is explored in this paper with an eye to analysing how civil disobedients and authorities should engage with each other.


Civil disobedienceCommunicationDesertDeterrenceDialogueJustificationPunishment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK