Daniel Weltman


Tony Milligan argues that some forms of covert non-human animal rescue, wherein activists anonymously and illegally free non-human animals from confinement, should be understood as acts of civil disobedience. However, most traditional understandings of civil disobedience require that the civil disobedient act publicly rather than covertly. Thus Milligan’s proposal is that we revise our understanding of civil disobedience to allow for covert in addition to public disobedience. I argue we should not. Milligan cannot justify using paradigm cases to expand the scope of civil disobedience without justifying similar reasons to limit the scope, and he does nto give convincing reasons for discarding the communication requirement, according to which an action cannot count as civil disobedience unless it is communicative. The immediate conclusion is that animal rescue is not civil disobedience, while the broader conclusion is one about civil disobedience more broadly: an act must be public to count as civil disobedience.


Discussion Notes