From Hong Kong to France, political protest is rarely off the news these days. But what tactics are morally justified when resisting injustice? A common view among media and politicians is that protest should always be “civil”, avoiding damage to property, disruption, and of course violence. Protesters, we are told, should follow the example of moral sages such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. This talk draws on philosophy to examine the ethics of protest. It looks at three recent examples – environmental sabotage, urban riots and refugee hunger strikes – to consider the role of uncivil protest in fighting injustice.
Dr. Guy Aitchison is Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Loughborough University where he teaches political theory and the history of political thought. His work looks at the ethics of political resistance, drawing on philosophy to think about how movements act to challenge an unjust status quo. He also has interests in the philosophy of human rights, immigration and online public shaming. Prior to Loughborough, he taught in the Philosophy department at King’s College London. He did his PhD at UCL and undergraduate degree at Cambridge University. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.