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Resisting Injustice: Arendt on Civil Disobedience and the Social Contract

  • William SmithEmail author
  • Shiyu Zhang
Chapter
Part of the Philosophers in Depth book series (PID)

Abstract

The idea of a social contract has often been used as a means of informing moral reflection on the scope of our right or duty to resist injustice. Hannah Arendt—perhaps surprisingly—also draws upon this tradition in her analysis of civil disobedience in the United States of America. The contention of this chapter is that her republican recasting of this tradition cannot speak to the injustice of arbitrary exclusion from the original contract. The resistance of the excluded is not a backward-looking attempt to enforce the original terms of the agreement, but a forward-looking attempt to remake that agreement. The political action made possible by their association allows the excluded to demonstrate their ‘right to have rights’, calling for the recasting of the polity along more inclusive lines.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chinese University of Hong KongSha TinHong Kong

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