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The Contender
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3 Points

Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/25/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 559 times Debate No: 94981
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."
-Henry David Thoreau-
Because I agree the words given by Thoreau, I strongly affirm today's resolution, civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.
I have 2 definitions
According to proffesr Michael Walser"s book, Civil disobedience is a non revolutionary encounter with the state, in a which a person breaks the law but does so in ways that do not challenge the legitimacy of the legal or political system. This person feels morally bound to disobey but also recognizes the moral value of the state. Civil disobedience is a way of maneuvering between these conflicting moralities. Disobedients willingly accept punishment which is a key distinguishing factor between disobedience and other forms of crime, like vandalism, which are intended to remain anonymous.
Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Value: Since the resolution is asking if civil disobedience should be justified or not, my value will be Justice.
Criterion: To have justice, we shouldn"t ignore but respect individuals, so individual conscieonce will be my criteria this round.

1. Civil disobedience is the key to democracy
Subpoint a
A: Democracies are imperfect
R: Huijin Liu states " In an imperfect democracy, citizens are justified in resorting to civil disobedience in order to be loyal to democratic ideals" We can say that some democracy that does not fit to the definition of democracy is an imperfect democracy.
Often those wealthiest of a nation are allowed the keys to the government and enter the ruling elite. The population of the others, those with limited representation find their voice through civil disobedience.
Active non-violent disobedience is necessary to speak truth to power under the very tenets of democracy, in which everyone should be fairly represented through their government. According to Richard Dworkin A man has duties other than his duties to the state. A man must honour his his conscience, and if these conflict with the duties of the state, then he is entitled, in the end, to do what he judges to be right.
Another more current example is the Black Lives Matters movement. Activist have argued that the murder unarmed Black people and differential treatment in policing of minorities have been occurring for decades. After acts of disobedience on behalf of the protestors this has evolved into a conversation that people are having regarding policing and communities of color.
I: A more representative government is a fundamental to ensuring that the truth of liberal democracy is a reality.
T: As we can see all democracies are imperfect, however,working towards a more representative government through non-violent dissension only does more to lead us to a work towards perfecting the imperfect doctrine of democracy.
Subpoint b.
A:Civil disobedience gives minority a voice.
The biggest problem in democracy is that it is easy to ignore minority. Plato said that democracy is a form of Ochlocracy because if majority in democracy aren"t well knowned, then the country will have lots of problems. This is showing that listening to minority"s voice is very important. In democracy, if minority doesn"t use civil disobedience, there is no any way to say their opinion and make them respected. There is no any reason to block the voice of minority. This is the reason why civil disobedience is morally justified in democracy.Saying that civil disobedience is not justified in democracy is to say that people should ignore the voice of minority in democracy. It is also to say that people should always obey government even though they are unjust. This should never happen. So, it means that civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.
A: Civil disobedience is a necessary check on power to prevent authoritarianism
The reason that we have "one person one vote" is because every citizen in a democracy is entitled to equal protection under the law. However, the problem with a democracy is that they often ignores the minority. When individuals don"t have access to the political powers that be, their only recourse is the most effective means of calling attention to their difficulty. This is where civil disobedience comes in. By breaking what they perceive to be unjust laws, or by violating other laws in their protest, civil disobedients can effectively force the government to pay attention to the issues they face. Government will see that people doesn"t like the law what they are breaking and they will pay attention to the issues. Letters to congressman, lobbying, and appeals to the courts are slow and often ineffective means of garnering attention. If individuals are willing to accept the consequences of their actions (jail), then they ought to use civil disobedience as a form of democratic discourse. They are not subverting the system, they"re introducing a new aspect to the dialogue. Civil disobedience is a ballot for the people whose ballot doesn"t matter.
Saying that civil disobedience is not justified in democracy is to say that people should ignore minority in democracy. Legal ways like letters to caongressman, lobbying, and appeals to the courts are slow and also ineffective. this is whay civil disobedience should be morally justified in a democracy.
As I proved, civil disobedience is a way to perfecting democracy. Also, civil disobedience will give minority a voice and it will necessary check on power to prevent authoritarianism. My opponent should prove why we should ignore minority"s voice to win. If my opponent fails to do that, I ask you to affirm.


My opponent doesn't specify is civil disobedience is always, usually, often, sometimes, or rarely justified. In one of my first debates I lost, because I didn't specify and my opponent therefore said I must prove it in all cases, which I couldn't. So, I lost from not being explicit.

I think this was a lousy way to win a debate, so I won't do the same to you. Instead, I think a the fair amount of 50% middle ground would make for the best debate, do you not agree? So, let the resolution be,

"Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified at least 51% of the time."

The problem is in today's world with civil disobedience is there are so many lawful avenues. Phone calls, emails, petitions, law abiding protests, and even stating your mind via social media. Therefore, I find it rare for a person to have the need to resort to civil disobedience. Thanks for debating.
Debate Round No. 1


First, I'll defend my case and go over my opponent's case. So my opponent said that there are lots of legal ways. But the problem of living wage is as I said, it is so slow and often ineffective as I said already. Also, it doesn't mean that civil disobedience is not justified even if that we have another way. So, my opponent's respond cannot stand. Now, I'll go over my opponent's case. My opponent had to prove that civil disobedience is not morally justified in a democracy. But, they didn't give any value, value criteria, and arguments. This means that they have nothing to say now. Because of these reasons, I ask you to affirm.


Civil disobedience is disruptive. The act of the police arresting the individuals means the police cannot be somewhere else pursuing more serious crimes. Civil disobedience clogs the prisons and courts. Also, there is usually fines for disobeying the law. This money can be used for other endeavors.

As for any social justice cause, including living wage, progress is slow. You can't expect a public that is duped up on reality TV and fast food to be sensitive to your plight. Besides, there is people suffering worse in 3rd world countries. This suffering in 3rd world countries draw sympathy away from the lower class in 1st world countries.

Thanks for debating.
Debate Round No. 2


So, my opponent said that civil disobedience is disruptive. They said civil disobedience makes polices to arrest them and this means that they can't block crimes. But if civil disobedience is morally justified, disobedients can communicate with government. Police doesn't need to block people who are communicating with government. Also, my opponent said that other process like living wage are so slow. Civil disobedience can be used on that part.
Now I'll extend my case. Civil disobedience is morally justified. There are no any reason to block people's voice. As I already stated, civil disobedience is a tool to give people voice. Justifying civil disobedience is justifying people having voice which is a key in a democracy. And for my opponent, I have a question. Lets say that a kid is getting bullied by lots of people across the street. The problem to help the kid is that the cross light is so far and police is too slow to help the kid. Are you going to help the kid? The second question is that isn't it true that some laws are legally defined but morally bankrupt? I hope that my opponent answers this question. The problem on my opponent's base was that there was no any argument. This made us to argue only in my case. But never let my opponent to make a new argument because making a argument is allowed only in 1st round and 2nd round. But then, my opponent was just talking about what they thought. This means that they dropped every single argument. This is very important. They are just agreeing to every single case. This is going to be the main reason why I should win. So I ask you to affirm. Thank you.


""Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified at least 51% of the time." stupidape

I changed the resolution to the above since the original was too ambiguous to begin with. The way it was written, it seemed you were arguing that civil disobedience was morally justified 100% of the time. I explained that there are many circumstances where legal avenues and opportunities are available.

We shouldn't haphazardly break the law and use civil disobedience. Yes, there are times when civil disobedience is warranted. Yet, as I've already stated rarely will we need to resort to civil disobedience due to phone call, emails, petitions, law abiding protests, and social media. Not only that but disobeying the law ties up police and court's resources while costing the disobedience person fines.

Thanks for debating.
Debate Round No. 3


Voters, since my opponent didn't answer my question, I'll take the silence as yes for the first question. Also, I never agreed changing the resolution as "civil disobedience in a democracy is 51% justified." My opponent should prove that civil disobedience in a democracy is always not morally justified.
Now, I'll tell you why I won this debate. So, the most important thing when you live is justice. Think about a world without Justice. People will be unfair and unreasonable. This will make authoritarianism. Without civil disobedience as I said in my rounds before, nobody can check if government is going to have authoritarian or not. Giving people voice will block this. Voters, lets say that you are walking in the street and across the street, a kid is attacked by lots of people. The problem is that the traffic light is so far and police are so slow to help you. Are you going to help the kid by jay walking? Of course you should or you are inhuman and unjust. You can metaphor this as civil disobedience. This is because civil disobedience is non violent action with a moral reason. Now you notice that civil disobedience is a way to achieve justice. Think about it. Is giving people a voice is a horrible and a bad thing? NO!!!!! We should respect people's conscience to achieve justice which was my criteria. A world which my opponent is trying to make is a world that people ignores minority. Also, lets think about this point too. Is something legal is always something that is moral? If you say yes, it means that slavery was a moral thing too. This means that something that is legal is not something that is moral. We shouldn't follow a government that is trying to take people's human right, and this means that civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. Voters, because of these reason, I ask you to affirm. Thank you for debating. I hope we debate again!


"My opponent should prove that civil disobedience in a democracy is always not morally justified"

lol, if I thought that was true I would have never accepted the debate. 100% burden of proof on either side would be unfair. Thanks for debating.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by realpheonix 5 months ago
I said that con should prove that civil disobedience is not morally justified but this is not a burden, this is just a argument and it was my opponent's job to prove that it isn't true.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
Sorry, wrong report:

>Reported vote: Bored_Debater// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.

[*Reason for non-removal*] The voter assesses specific arguments made by both debaters and determines the outcome based on an analysis of the thresholds discussed in the debate. That is sufficient.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
>Reported vote: Bored_Debater// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: This isn't much of a debate but a conversation. The BOP is on pro to prove that people must obey Jesus though. Neither made any real argument for or against. However, points go to con. pro says that people don't live life if they don't follow Jesus, con proves that they do by showing that billions of people live without Jesus... After that it goes off topic.

[*Reason for removal*] While the voter does sufficiently explain arguments, there is no explanation given for source points.
Posted by Bored_Debater 5 months ago
If anyone disagrees with my ruling, feel free to contact the vote moderators. If they agree that I didn't fairly and adequately do it properly they will remove it.
Posted by Bored_Debater 5 months ago
Con states that there are legal methods to take before crossing into civil disobedience, calling the peoples' right to protest, petition for redress of grievances, of speech before crossing into a mess of civil disobedience which can waste resources and time for the courts and the people disobeying. Pro refuses to compromise a 50/50 threshold and asserts the 100%. Doing this hurts pro cause disobeying 100% of the time can't be morally justified. Con argues that people should take legal avenues before the illegal one, that taking the legal methods can lead to the same end without the issues suffered by those involved. Agreeing to the 50/50 could have turned it into your favor.

Also the BOP is on pro to prove that its morally justified for civil disobedience. Con must poke holes in your arguments and sway voters to vote for him. Cause he explained the legal methods and that sometimes disobeying is justifiable but not always cause of the protected freedoms, therefore, arguments goes to con.
Posted by realpheonix 5 months ago
Can anybody vote?
Posted by realpheonix 6 months ago
Don't let my opponent to drop my case. Dropping=losing
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Bored_Debater 5 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.