Should rules always be obeyed?

An interesting question to ask is whether rules, those guiding instructions we have in society to keep ever essential peace and order, should always be obeyed? When might it be needed to not obey the rules of society or in fact be essential to go against them? This short post provides opinions of mine on this subject.

It is clear that by and large rules should be obeyed. Without them we would live in conflict and chaos in a near state of nature and unable to function the way we have as a progressing society for the past millennia and longer. Knowing that we need rules to be obeyed for peace and order is only a base assertion of sorts. When we ask more questions we can see that there may be times when we should not obey rules or even that it is essential and important that we do not.

The first example that many think of when this question is posed is that the laws are unjust or that they are being used by an unjust government to suppress the population. An unjust law can be one that is out of date, not properly formulated and having an unintended consequence on a vulnerable population, or blatantly authoritarian such as censorship on the media and political opposition. Each of these examples can be such that it makes sense not only to not follow them, to disobey them, but also to take active measure i.e. legal challenges, protest, riot, to change the laws as written and enforced.

Another more complicated instance of when many say we should not obey laws is when a more basic law e.g. Constitutional Right, would be broken if the law were followed. I believe laws are intended to be designed so that this does not happen although laws “rules” can always be challenged.

So not only are there times when rules should not be obeyed, but it is also I think important at times for rules not to be followed and to challenge their application, foundation, and enforcement. While a rule may seem like an infallible decree, in truth they are riddled with flaws. It is essential in a liberal democracy to challenge through civil disobedience rules which cause more damage than good.