Philosophy 20A

A Legal Studies Course

Professor Andreas Teuber 

Department of Philosophy 
Waltham, Massachusetts 02254 
Tel. 781-736-2787 

Office Hours: 
Tuesday & Fridays 1:30-2:30 PM 
and by appointment 

Teaching Assistants
Kirk Buckman 
Office Hours: To be announced 
Odysseus Makridis 
Office Hours: To be announced

The course focuses on the relation of the individual to the state and, in particular, on the theory and practice of non-violent resistance (civil disobedience), its aims, methods, achievements, and legitimacy.


  • Course Description

  • Texts

  • Articles on Reserve

  • Course Requirements


    The course is divided into five parts:

    I. An opening section in which the examples of Antigone, Socrates, Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King will be discussed.

      II. A second section which will include a closer look at the strategies of resistance employed during the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, as well as a search for answers to the question: "For what purposes and under what circumstances can civil disobedience be justified?" - including, but not limited to, disobedience for publicity, disobedience as an act of conscience, as a First Amendment right, as the violation of a law thought to be unconstitutional, and as a plea for reconsideration of an "immoral"law in light of a shared standard of justice. The second section also includes a general examination of the nature of obligation and an examination of the relationship between obligation and consent.

      III. A third section which will explore the role of civil disobedience in a democratic society, the conflict between authority and autonomy and the grounds for giving one's allegiance to any state at all.

      IV. A fourth section devoted to an examination of several contemporary examples of non-violent resistance, in particular, non-violent resistance in opposition to world trade agreements in Seattle, Washington, D. C. and Prague, disobedience in China and Northern Ireland, and the use and/or abuse of civil disobedience at abortion clinics.

    V. And a concluding section devoted to a study of the future of democracy in this country and throughout the world.



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    Primary texts will be available at the University Book Store:

      Sophocles, ANTIGONE, Dover
      King, LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL, A. J. Muste Institute
      Walzer, WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN, Marsilio Press
      Wolff IN DEFENSE OF ANARCHISM, Harper and Rowe
      Levine, TOWARD A FAIR AND DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY, Rowman and Littlefield
      Barber and Schulz (Editors), JIHAD VS. MACWORLD, Ballantine
             Also two specially prepared Reading Packets: Civil Disobedience: Theory & Practice and Democratic Theory: Problems and Solutions are at the heart of the required reading for the course and will be on electronic reserve and on reserve in Goldfarb Library. A list of these articles is provided below..
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     The following articles are available on the WEB through Electronic Reserve (ELRS) accessible by Password.  These articles are available to you on the WEB if you enter the appropriate code information.  You may download any artcile for your own personal use:

    Articles on Reserve:

    1. Doris Hunter, On the Bhagavad-Gita
    2. Reuven Kimelman, Non-Violence in the Talmud
    3. Leo Tolstoy, Non-Resistance to Evil: Letter to Ernest Crosby
    4. David Daube, The Women of the Bible and Greece
    5. Margaret Hope Bacon, Non-Violence and Women
    6. Thich Nhat Hanh, Feelings and Perceptions
    7. Gene Sharp, Non-Violent Action: An Active Technique of Struggle
    8. Gene Sharp, The Technique of Non-Violent Action
    9. Allan Solomonow, Can Non-Violence Work in the Middle- East?
    10. Liane Ellison Norman, Peace Through Strength
    11. Jesse Wallace Hughan, Pacifism and Invasion
    12. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance
    13. Harris Wofford, Jr., Non-Violence and the Law: The Law Needs Help
    14. Harrison Tweed, Bernard Segal, & Herbert Packer,
             Civil Rights and Disobedience to Law
    15. William Taylor, Observations on the Strategies of Protest
    16. Louis Waldman , Civil Rights-Yes!; Civil Disobedience-No!
    17. Albert Bigelow, Why I am Sailing This Boat into the Bomb- test Area
    18. Bertrand Russell, Civil Disobedience and the Threat of Nuclear Warfare
    19. Declaration of Conscience and A Call to Resist
    20. Carl Cohen, Law, Speech, and Disobedience
    21. Richard Boardman. Letter to Local Board No. 114
    22. Tom Jarrell, Confessions of a Two-Time Draft Card Burner
    23. Charles Wyzanski, Jr.. On Civil Disobedience and Draft Resistance
    24. Noam Chomsky, Lewis Feuer, Paul Goodman, & Irving Kristol,
             A Symposium on Civil Disobedience and the Vietnam War
    25. Richard Wasserstrom, The Obligation to Obey the Law
    26. Fred Berger, Symbolic Conduct and Freedom of Speech
    27. A. John Simmons, Tacit Consent
    28. John Rawls, Legal Obligation, Fair Play, and Civil Disobedience
    29. Ronald Dworkin, Political Obligation and Community
    30. Alasdair MacIntyre, Is Patriotism a Virtue?
    31. Hanna Pitkin, Obligation and Consent - II
    32. David Lyons, Obedience to Law
    33. Ronald Dworkin, Civil Disobedience
    34. Brian Barry, Is Democracy Special?
    35. Susan Mendus, Losing the Faith: Feminism & Democracy
    36. Ronald Dworkin, Civil Disobedience and Nuclear Protest
    37. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (excerpts)
    38. Peter Singer, Equality and Its Implications
    39. Richard Norman, Does Equality Destroy Liberty?
    40. Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty
    41. Frithjof Bergmann, Freedom and Society
    42. Gerald Dworkin, Autonomy
    43. Elizabeth Wolgast, Pornography and the Tyranny of the Majority
    45. Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchsim
    46. Robert Dahl, After the Revolution


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    Class Times

    The course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thuirsdays: 1:10 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.



      Four medium-length papers are required on topics growing out of the readings and class discussions. The papers should be about 5-6 pages in length, preferably typewritten. Paper topics will be available at least ten (10) days before a paper is due. It is wise to make a copy of a paper before handing in the original. If you are working on a computer, make a back-up. Paper topics will be available at least ten (10) days before a paper is due.



      There will be a quiz in class. There will be no other written examinations, final or otherwise.



      Grading will be broken down as follows: 30% for your strongest essay, 25% for your next best effort, 20% for the next, and 15% for the essay which is least successful of the four. The quiz will count 10%.



    Although class attendance will not be taken directly into account in considering an overall grade for the course, attendance is required, and failure to attend may result in a lowering of your grade. You are allowed two unexcused absences.



      Two films will be shown during the semester: "The Montgomery Bus Boycott" from EYES ON THE PRIZE and STOPPING HISTORY, a documentary about protest against the proliferation of nuclear weapons on Friday, November 7th. (times to be announced).


    Small Group Discussions

      In a course this large discussion groups can be very helpful. Occasional discussion sections will be scheduled especially after paper topics are handed out and before a paper is due. Discussion groups will give you an opportunity to explore some of the complex issues of the course in greater depth.


    Office Hours

      I will hold office hours from 2:00 to 3:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays and by appointment. My office is located in Rabb, Room 306. If you wish to leave messages for me, you may do so at the Philosophy Department Office, Rabb 305, or by phone at 736-2788.

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