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Unformatted text preview: real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it. OBEYING THE LAW, RATHER THAN ACTING UPON THE RIGHT, IS IMMORAL Henry David Thoreau. "Civil Disobedience: an essay," http://eserver.org/thoreau/civil.html (7/21/03), 1849. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts--a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments, though it may be SLHS Value File CITIZENS MUST NOT SURRENDER THEIR JUDGEMENT OF JUSTICE John Rawls, The Justification of Civil Disobedience, COLLECTED PAPERS BY JOHN RAWLS, 1969, pg 180 The justice of the constitution does not ensure the justice of laws enacted under it; and while we often have both an obligation and a duty to comply with what the majority legislates (as long as it does not exceed certain limits), there is, of course, no corresponding obligation or duty to regard what...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13