[Talk] The Moral Limits of Violence in Political Resistance

Wednesday, 23 November 2022, 17:30-19:00 PT
The Moral Limits of Violence in Political Resistance
Prof. Joseph Cho-wai Chan, Princeton University
Place of Many Trees, or xʷθəθiqətəm
Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC, 6476 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver

A City Rebegins Event.
Registration required.


The talk will examine whether violence in political resistance against state injustice is morally permissible. Contemporary analytic political and legal philosophy seldom discusses this question, and the literature of nonviolent disobedience does not offer much help. The most relevant literature seems to be the ethics of war and the ethics of individual self-defense, in which four principles are commonly employed to assess the moral limits of force – just cause, reasonable prospect of success, necessity, and proportionality. This talk examines the the extent to which these principles can provide practical moral guidance for participants in resistance movements that are highly dynamic and open-ended.


Joseph Cho-wai Chan is Global Scholar and Visiting Professor at University Center for Human Values of Princeton University. He has taught at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong for three decades. Since 2021, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS), Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and will be a Distinguished Research Fellow at the RCHSS from February 2023. His recent research interests span Confucian political philosophy, comparative political theory, and contemporary theories of democracy and liberalism. He is the author of “Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times” (Princeton, 2014) and co-edited with Melissa Williams and Doh Shin “East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide” (Cambridge, 2016). He has been published in numerous journals such as Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, History of Political Thought, the Journal of Democracy, Philosophy East and West, and China Quarterly. His latest articles are “Equality, Friendship, and Politics,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 121, Issue 3 (2021): 275-298, and (with Brian Wong) “How Should Liberal Democratic Governments Treat Conscientious Disobedience as A Response to State Injustice? A Proposal,” Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Vol. 91 (2022): 141-167.


This talk is organized by the UBC Hong Kong Studies Initiative in partnership with Department of Political Science; generously supported by St. John’s College UBC and UBC Community Engagement; and co-sponsored by: Department of Asian Studies, Department of History, Centre for Chinese Research, Department of Theatre and Film, Public Humanities Hub, and the School of Social Work.


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