Prof. Pasternak presents “Political Rioting: A Moral Assessment”

Time: 10:00 to 11:15 AM
Location: 315 Shillman Hall, Northeastern University
Sponsored By: Philosophy and Religion Department, and the PPE Program
Contact: Candice Delmas at

Dr. Avia Pasternak | Associate Professor at London’s Global University

Abstract: In recent years many democracies have experienced waves of riots, instigated by police brutality and racial and social exclusion. A common view is that protestors who resort to this type of collective violence deserve serious moral censure and legal punishment. This article challenges such common perceptions. It develops instead a qualified moral defense of rioters. The argument focuses on ‘political rioters’: agents who resort to violence in response to social or economic injustice, and who communicate anger and defiance of the law. Political rioting can be a justified form of protest in light of the valuable roles it plays in democracies marred by severe injustice – promoting the disadvantages rights and resisting injustice. It follows that protesters who resort to public violence for justified political reasons, and who keep the violence within the limits I prescribe, deserve an entirely different moral response from their political community.



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