Thoreau On Civil Disobedience

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Konstantin Keller Anne Portman Philosophy 2010 4 December 2015 Thoreau on Civil Disobedience In Civil Disobedience, Henry Thoreau asserts that one should prioritize one’s conscience over the dictates of law. Thoreau begins his essay by arguing that government is rarely useful and that its power comes merely from the fact that the government is the strongest group, rather than because they hold the most correct viewpoint. He believes that people are obligated to do what they think is right and to refuse to follow the law as dictated by the majority. If a government is being unjust, people should distance themselves from that government and refuse to follow its laws. However, he doesn’t believe that people are obligated to commit their lives to eliminating such evils from the world, but rather they should not participate in said evils. Because voting and governmental reform is often ineffective, one should deal with an unjust government by ideologically dissociating one’s self from the government and refusing to participate in its institutions. Thoreau begins by stating that he agrees with the saying, “that government is best which governs least.” He says that, one day, people will be able to have a government which does not govern at all. In its current state, Thoreau argues that government rarely proves itself useful, and that it is often abused to the point that it no longer represents the wishes of the people. According to Thoreau, the American government is a necessity

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