Can Civil Disobedience Be Morally Justified? Comparative Cases Study of "Occupy Central with Love and Peace Movement" and the Umbrella Movement


Student thesis: Master's Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date26 Jun 2018


Civil disobedience has its typical features, including nonviolence, publicity, conscientious communicativeness, consciousness, as the last resort, has the reasonable chance of success, and its participants’ willingness of accepting the punishment. Different philosophers, scholars and social activists tried to explain the reasons of upholding these features. Nonetheless, this thesis will re-evaluate whether these reasons are valid and whether they are sufficient to insist that civil disobedience must have all of these typical features. By this re-evaluation, the definition of civil disobedience can be refined.

However, some essential philosophical debates would be omitted if this thesis only discussed about the features of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a political action of disobeying the unjust law or public policy rather than of overthrowing the political authority, but the debate about whether this kind of disobedience is justified is not less important than refining the definition of civil disobedience. Thus, a comprehensive literature review about the western philosophical perspectives of civil disobedience will be included in this thesis. Through making comparisons among western political philosophy, a more solid theoretical framework of justifying civil disobedience can be established. However, this thesis does not aim at establishing a pure theoretical framework only. Rather, it will use an appropriate and representative case for illustration. Among all, the cases of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace Movement (OCLPM), which was happened in Hong Kong from March 2013 to September 2014 (its official outbreak was dated on 28 September 2014), and the Umbrella Movement, which was happened immediately after the diminishing of the OCLPM, will be chosen. Studying these two cases in depth with the newly established theoretical framework will be contextually suitable.