Tine Hindkjær Madsen
Karen Blixens Plads 8, Building: 16-1-24
2300 København S
Fields of interest
- Political legitimacy
- Democracy and civil disobedience
- Epistemic humility and arrogance
- Epistocracy and expertise
- Liberty and distribution of wealth
- Moral realism
- Political philosophy
- Applied philosophy
My Ph.d.-project entitled "Dissent and Democracy" revolves around the overall question of whether or when democratic citizens are morally warranted in engaging in civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is an illegal mode of political protest positioned between legal demonstrations and deliberation, on the one side, and revolution or military resistance, on the other. In a democratic society, civil disobedience poses a moral problem, because there is arguably a moral duty to obey democratically enacted laws. On the other hand, democratic laws may be unjust and there is arguably a duty to oppose injustice. My thesis will consist of three papers on different aspects concerning the justification of civil disobedience in liberal democracy.
The aim of my first paper is to develop a limited moral justification of civil disobedience. I argue that dissenters who know that the majority has adopted a wrong decision are warranted in rejecting majoritarian authority when there are no qualified objections to their dissent. The underlying argument for this claim is a familiar one, but it is not an argument that has been applied to cases of civil disobedience. The argument is familiar from the literature on epistocracy. Like civil disobedience, epistocracy is an epistemically valuable political practice that nonetheless conflicts with the majority principle. By reflecting on the question of when superior political knowledge warrants rejecting the authority of the majority in the epistocracy case, I identify considerations that also apply to the disobedience context.
The aim of my second paper, which I plan to co-authoring with my supervisor Klemens Kappel, is to examine whether democratic citizens engaging in civil disobedience are epistemically arrogant. Disobedients are sometimes perceived as arrogant, because they apparently think that their own judgment about what ought to be done politically is superior to that of their fellow citizens and elected government. In this paper, we first provide a conceptual analysis of the epistemic vice that epistemic arrogance is. Drawing on our conceptual analysis, we then discuss whether dissenters are vulnerable to a charge of epistemic arrogance.
In my third paper, I discuss whether there is a belief-relative moral right to engage in civil disobedience. Acts of civil disobedience are undertaken in defense of a variety of causes ranging from banning GMO crops and prohibiting abortion to fighting inequality and saving the environment. In this paper, I first argue that Brownlee 2012’s important argument from conscientious conviction fails in its aim to establish a moral right to engage in civil disobedience regardless of the content of one’s cause. I then provide a more general argument that a moral right to civil disobedience grounded in a basic moral value does not extend to the fight for any political cause.
The project is funded by The Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen and affiliated with the research group for practical philosophy. The project is supervised by Klemens Kappel.