Discipline: Political Science
Theory of principled law breaking.
The expression was used by the American writer Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) in his essay 'On the Duty of Civil Disobedience', and put into action by Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi (1869-1948).
There is a conflict between a general obligation to obey the law in free and constitutional societies, and the obligation to follow one's conscience.
If a major clash occurs, the citizens may express their disagreement by openly breaking the law to demonstrate profound dissent from a particular policy. In so doing they accept the penalties which follow such action.
Also see: satyagraha
H A Bedau, ed., Civil Disobedience: Theory and Practice (Indianapolis, 1979)