Socrates And Martin Luther King: Civil Disobedience

Joan Sheier

Essay # 4

Both Socrates and Martin Luther King Jr. do believe in civil disobedience. They do not, however, have the exact same view on it. Socrates only believes in civil disobedience if you are given no other option. He believes if you live in a government where you are given a forum to argue your case, one should not practice civil disobedience. Socrates believes that if you are given a trial by jury and you feel their judgement is unjust that you should still respect it, and that since you have chosen to live in that society that you have a tacit contract to follow the rules. He feels that if you were unhappy with the legal system before you could have left. By staying you said that you agree to follow the rules. Socrates believes that by disobeying the state you are committing an injustice, you are breaking your contract and dishonoring the state. He believes that it is better to be a recipient of an injustice then to be the perpetrator of one.

King on the other hand, believes that if you feel a law is unjust that you have a moral responsibility to disobey it and that by sitting by and doing nothing you are actually doing an injustice. King has certain criteria for judging an unjust law. First, if a law is out of harmony with the law of god (the Ten Commandments) then that law is unjust. Also, if a law is not in harmony with the laws of nature, if it degrades the human

Word Count: 263

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