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This paper presents a “gravity model” of civic deviance and the principle of reparative responsibilities, addressing the question of when citizens are justified in shirking their civic obligations. Provided an unjust society, this paper raises the proposal that principled civic deviance (CD) should be, at the very least, permissible to varying levels as determined by a gravity equation. In select cases, it is arguable that CD may be obligatory. The gravity model, which sets to define the degree of permissible CD, features considerations such as the unfairness of the basic social structure, the individual extent of injustice faced, and the balance of CD-enabling natural duties against CD-restricting natural duties. In responding to one’s natural duty of justice, reparative responsibilities (RR) consign varying degrees of CD obligations, depending on the individual’s stake in injustice, beneficiary and contributory status, capacity to prevent and respond. Hence, individuals affected by an unjust state may permissibly, or necessarily, shirk their civic obligations only in line with their natural duties and RR.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • A Gravity Model of Civic Deviance

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 96

  • Issue
    • 3

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Woojin Lim is a legal researcher in global justice and human rights, studying moral and political philosophy at Harvard University.