Might we have a moral duty not to obey the law?

​Introduction (Abstract)

How the law interacts with our moral judgment in deciding whether and how to act is a topic that sparks much debate among legal philosophers. One has to distinguish between “obey” in two different senses of the word. The anarchist argues that the morally autonomous man should always dictate his actions with moral reasoning of his own. He has a moral duty not to obey the law at any time, even if he complies with it as a result of his reasoning. Unfortunately, this account is unsatisfactory for mischaracterizing how law replaces one’s views of morality.

Arguing from the service conception, Raz argues that when the law has a legitimate claim of authority, the most rational course to discharge one’s moral responsibilities is to accept such claim and follow it. [1] But this does not translate into a general obligation to obey the law. Then the question whether we have a moral duty not to obey the law arises in a different sense, i.e. under what circumstances we have a moral duty to resist the law, to do what the law prohibits? I observe that in some instances where Raz argues that there is no moral obligation to observe law, the individual sometimes has a positive moral duty to disobey the law.

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