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Conscience and ConvictionThe Case for Civil Disobedience$
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Kimberley Brownlee

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199592944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199592944.001.0001

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(p.119) 4 Rights
Conscience and Conviction

Kimberley Brownlee

Oxford University Press

Drawing on the previous discussion, this chapter explores the moral rights generated by conscience and conscientious conviction respectively. The chapter shows that the value of conscience generates a duty-based right that protects our ability to honour our special moral responsibilities. The chapter then looks at what is required to respect us as autonomous and expressive beings who can forge deep moral convictions. The chapter shows that the autonomy and dignity-related value of respecting conviction gives rise to two moral rights. These are a right to inner control and free thought and a limited moral right of conscientious action. It is argued that neither the right of conscience nor the right of conscientious action can be translated into a legal right, but nevertheless they should inform the analysis of how the law ought to respond to the disobedience they protect.

Keywords:   moral rights, legal rights, free thought, free expression, civil disobedience, personal disobedience

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