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According to the theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau 18th century French political philosopher in a democratic society the state represents the general will of the citizens and that in obeying its laws each citizen is pursuing his own real interests Thus in an ideal state laws express the general will An individual who disagrees with a law must be failing to look at things from the moral standpoint Rousseau is talking about an ideal state where laws express peoples general will a will that aims at the common good But the question is are we living in an ideal state and do all the laws of our land express the common will of the people and should we obey all the laws even if they are unjust The answer to this question can be different for different people but in my opinion it is NO I think the state in which we are living in is not an ideal state described by Rousseau There are times when the laws are unjust and it is reasonable to disobey them and protest against them to get them change if there is a higher moral or purpose behind it I would agree with StAugustine an unjust law is no law at all As we know during the sixties large number of people recognized that obeying the law was sometimes harmful because sometimes the law itself was wrong Therefore we had a civil rights movement an anti-war movement and several other smaller movements in which people purposely disobeyed the law But the question is how and when to disobey the law how does one determine whether a law is just or unjust If we look back in history we find perfect examples to get an answer to our question the example of Henry Thoreau Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King They all were governed by the sense of justice For them there are times when it is necessary to break
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