According to "Civil Disobedience," would civil order be transformed if each person always followed his or her conscience? Explain.

According to Civil Disobedience, civil order would be transformed if each person followed his or her conscience because then, unjust laws enforced by the government would not be heeded. Justice would prevail in a society such as this, because people would not obey unjust laws just for the sake of obedience.

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In Civil Disobedience , Thoreau writes that society would be entirely transformed if people followed their consciences instead of the law. The majority rules not because it is in the right, but because it is physically stronger than other groups. Governments therefore make laws which are often unjust and opposed...

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In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau writes that society would be entirely transformed if people followed their consciences instead of the law. The majority rules not because it is in the right, but because it is physically stronger than other groups. Governments therefore make laws which are often unjust and opposed to the conscience of the individual. If people followed their consciences, they would not act as "the agents of injustice" merely because the law required them to do so, meaning that justice would prevail far more often than it does.

Thoreau singles out war as a particularly egregious instance of the way in which law currently triumphs over conscience. He depicts an entire army marching to participate in a battle which the conscience of each individual of whom the army is composed would reject:

A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, aye, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart.

These men, Thoreau says, can scarcely be regarded as men at all, since they are following arbitrary orders rather than consulting their own consciences. They are acting as "small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power." If they all followed their consciences, they would not fight, meaning that peace, as well as justice, would prevail. Quite apart from creating a fairer and less violent society, this focus on the individual conscience would allow all citizens to feel that they were part of a community which respected their dignity and autonomy.

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