Kimberley Brownlee, Disobedience: The Rarest and Most Courageous of the Virtues? (Ethics of Protest)

Ethics of Protest

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Disobedience: The Rarest and Most Courageous of the Virtues?

George Bernard Shaw’s Maxims for Revolutionists declares that: ‘Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.’ Yet, disobedience is often seen not as neglect, but as disrespect, offensiveness, and aggression. We tend to ‘shoot’ the dissenter in the moment and praise her only later, if at all. This talk teases out why we tend to find disobedience threatening and why genuine disobedience is radical, if not always virtuous. The talk considers seven types of disobedience, beginning with civil disobedience and then turning to six types that press at the boundaries of civil disobedience: 1. collective disobedience, 2. uncivil obedience, 3. globalized disobedience, 4. digital disobedience, 5. aesthetic disobedience, and 6. non-conscientious disobedience. 

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This is an online event, available on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel, on Friday, January 21. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit

Kimberley Brownlee
University of British Columbia

Fri, Jan 21, 2022
12:30 PM - 01:45 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin