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Violent Political Resistance: Defence Against Injustice in Partially Just States

Trengove, Markus; (2022) Violent Political Resistance: Defence Against Injustice in Partially Just States. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis contributes to the growing literature on the ethics of violent political resistance to the state and its constituent institutions. Political theory has historically been defined by two traditions: the revolutionary tradition, and the civil disobedience tradition that limits political participation to (generally) non-violent communicative law-breaking. Theorists have recently sought to forge a third path by describing the conditions for justified non-revolutionary violence. In particular, these theorists have drawn on the resources of the literature on defensive action to discern the normative limits of political violence, arguing that violence against an unjust state constitutes a form of defence. This thesis investigates the moral permissibility of violent political resistance. It assesses what it would take for political violence to satisfy the criteria of necessity, success, and proportionality, drawing nuanced moral distinctions between different kinds of political violence. In the process, this thesis considers in detail a range of topics: whether political violence impermissibly manipulates its victims; which agents of the state are liable to be harmed by virtue of their complicity in injustice; what moral implications follow from empirical evidence of the ineffectiveness of political violence; and whether the victims of injustice can commit violence to defend their dignity. While the thesis applies the defensive framework to a range of real and hypothetical examples throughout, it pays particular attention to the case of Fees Must Fall, a South African student movement that resorted to violence against state institutions and public universities. This thesis finds that limited violence can be permissible as a defence against injustice, particularly if violence is non-manipulative and directed discerningly at individuals complicit in institutions responsible for injustice. This thesis also defends violence against empirical criticisms of its inefficacy, but it reaches sceptical conclusions about the use of violence in defence of dignity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Violent Political Resistance: Defence Against Injustice in Partially Just States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10150173
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