By Diana Hsieh
In Sunday's Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the morality of breaking the law and vigilantism in two questions. The first question was:
When is it moral to break the law? Laws should be written to protect individual rights. Unfortunately, many laws today violate rights. When should I abide by a rights-violating law, and when is it proper to break it?My answer, in brief:
A person does not have any moral obligation to submit to violations of his rights. However, the proper course – whether complying with the law, breaking the law overtly, or breaking the law covertly – depends on the particulars of the situation. Mostly, get legal advice first!Here's the video of my full answer:
The second question was:
Where is the line between justice and vigilantism? When is it moral to take the law into your own hands – meaning pursuing, detaining, and/or punishing criminals as a private citizen? Suppose that you know – without a shadow of a doubt – that some person committed a serious crime against you or a loved one. If the justice system cannot punish the person due to some technicality, is it wrong for you to do so? If you're caught, should a judge or jury punish you, as if you'd committed a crime against an innocent person?My answer, in brief:
The vigilante is not an agent of justice, but a threat to innocents and to the foundations of civilized society.Here's the video of my full answer:
If you enjoy these videos, please "like" them on YouTube and share then with friends via social media, forums, and e-mail! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.
Join the next Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET at www.PhilosophyInAction.com/live.
In the meantime, Connect with Us via social media, e-mail, RSS feeds, and more. Check out the Webcast Archives, where you can listen to the full webcast or just selected questions from any past episode, and our my YouTube channel. And go to the Question Queue to submit and vote on questions for upcoming webcast episodes.