October 28th, 2008 Lecture ? Notes -Martin Luther King ? Letter from a Birmingham Jail Cell -Legitimacy of the System -Setting -Writes letter from jail to number of clergymen in Alabama -Jailed after a protest in Birmingham, Alabama -Protest designed to go after economic interests -Number of clergymen urged King not to protest, to negotiate with city -King replies by saying no, there must be some form of action -Supreme Court upheld arrests because the protesters did not hold a permit to protest -Martin Luther King?s Argument -Trained to be nonviolent -Makes important distinction between just and unjust laws ? wants to make a conclusion that there is an obligation to obey just laws, but no obligation to obey unjust laws -Page 1203 -An unjust law is one that does not go along with the moral law -Any law that uplifts human personality is just, any law that degrades human personality is unjust ? segregation is an unjust law, because it degrades, makes people feel superior and inferior -Urges people to disobey segregation laws because they are immoral -An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority; a law the majority compels the minority to do against their will -A law must be neutral over the people it rules ? must be applied in an equal way -A code inflicted upon a minority that the minority had no choice in enacting ? imperfect process; cannot enforce a law on a people without giving them opportunity for participation -Law can be just in ideal but unjust in application -One who disobeys unjust law must do it lovingly (show that you still care about the laws, just want to change certain laws) and with purpose (openly), and must willingly accept penalty in order to display the highest respect for the law -In relation to Rawles -Obligation to obey the law comes from the duty of fair play ? if others are following the rules and are benefitting from this scheme, it is not fair to disobey these rules because it gives that individual and unfair advantage -So long as the benefits are available to everyone equality, and the people who make the rules are allowed to fairly participate in the process of making those rules; those who are asked to make a sacrifice should do so because it relates to fair play
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