In her recent book A Duty to Resist (2018), Candice Delmas contends that both beneficiaries and victims of injustices have a duty to resist unjust laws and to try to change them, and proposes several ways of grounding this duty. One of these proposed groundings appeals to considerations of fairness. Delmas holds that anyone who refuses to participate in resisting some injustice, including victims of that injustice, can be accused of free-riding and thus of unfair conduct that violates the duty of fair play, which means that they have a fairness-based duty to resist. In this paper, I critique this attempt to ascribe a duty to resist grounded in considerations of fairness specifically to victims of injustice. Against Delmas, I argue that victims of injustice do not have this fairness-based duty to resist because, unlike the beneficiaries of an injustice, they cannot be considered free-riders when they do not participate in resistance to the injustice. I then discuss additional problematic implications of Delmas’s view, focusing on the issue of victim-blaming, and show how these problems can be avoided. In this way, I hope to contribute to the urgent project of determining who has a duty to resist injustice.
Res Publica – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 25, 2021
Keywords: Civil disobedience; Injustice; Resistance; Political obligation; Fairness