Avia Pasternak: Violent Protests and the Proportionality Test

Datum: 13 oktober 2021
Tid: 14:00-15:45

Research seminar with Avia Pasternak, Associate Professor in Political Theory at University College London.


Violent protestors against state injustice typically target state property and state officers. Are such attacks morally justified? In this paper I begin to answer this question, by using the ethical framework of defensive harm. I argue that the harm that just protestors inflict on state property and state officers is often defensive, as it targets the state as the instigator of oppressed citizens’ rights violations. I then turn to examine if such harm can meet the proportionality test. I suggest that harm to the state could meet it only if those individuals who end up carrying the costs have the duty to incur the distributive effect of harm to the state. Finally, I argue that some bodily harm to police could be justified, because police officers have role obligations to incur some of the costs of defensive harm directed at the state.

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