Scandal I’m at a most


I’m at a most interesting conference in Victoria on “Liberty and the City.” It includes a number of law professors (and one U.S. federal judge), some historians, some city planners, and a couple of participants from other fields (psychology, political theory, literature, etc.). I seem to have scandalized a few people here by suggesting that one is only obligated to obey edicts of the state when they are just, or at least not unjust, and that unjust laws carry no moral obligation to obey, to turn oneself in when one does not obey, or passively to suffer the consequences if and when one is captured and punished by the state. Smoking marijuana or making love with your (willing) partner in your own home seem to me to be up to you, unless you have explicitly agreed to be governed by some other restriction (say, if you’re living in a non-smoking condominium or have joined a celibate institution); even in the latter cases, you can’t be put in a cage like an animal for breaking such rules, but merely asked to leave. I was surprised to find that my view was so controversial. Perhaps I don’t spend enough time around conservatives and (non-classical) liberals to find out what they think and why they think it.