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Center for Ethics Announces Fall Programming: Civility and Disobedience

Each year, the Center for Ethics sponsors an intensive series designed to encourage discussion and reflection on a timely, pertinent topic.

Monday, August 25, 2014 04:09 PM

The Muhlenberg Center for Ethics will sponsor Civility and Disobedience, a year-long series of special events and thematic lectures. 

Societies and organizations depend on compliance and obedience in order to function. Markets suffer if rules are not followed, and societies do not thrive in a state of chaos. But governments and organizations can be morally corrupt; the United States once allowed people to be enslaved, and the tobacco industry deliberately withheld the risks of their potentially lethal product. Under these circumstances, obedience becomes complicity and disobedience becomes the ethical course of action. Thus groups of people and individual whistle-blowers are often called to acts of disobedience and subversion by injustice they observe or experience. Martin Luther’s reformation, the American Civil Rights Movement, environmental activism, military draft-resistance, WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall Street, the African National Congress, Gandhi’s Indian independence movement, the Chiapas Rebellion, and the Arab Spring all represent significant rebellions against dominant authorities.

The targets of dissent are not limited to governments, but also include economic, educational, religious, and social institutions that expect adherence to ideologies. In some cases, individuals and organizations engaged in disobedience may themselves engage in morally questionable activities. When is it ethical to rebel against authority? When do moral causes become more important than the rule of law or compliance with norms? What is the role of dissent in healthy democracies?  Should protest always be peaceful or is violence sometimes the right thing to do? When is “working within the system” the best thing to do?

Each year, the Center for Ethics sponsors an intensive series designed to encourage discussion and reflection on a timely, pertinent topic.  Center for Ethics programs are free and open to all members of the Muhlenberg campus and the local community. For more information on the series, visit

Fall programs sponsored by the Center for Ethics will include:

“Silencing Protest: On the Ethics and Politics of Social Theory”
A Talk with Barbara Cruikshank, U. Mass Amherst
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 -- 7:30 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Muhlenberg Alumni Activism Panel
Panelists include: Adrian Shanker ’09, Alex Lotorto ’09 and Kelly Howe ’03
Friday, September 12, 2014 -- 2:00 p.m.
Trumbower 130

"From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Calhoun: The Supreme Court and Voting Rights in Historical Perspective"
A talk by Scott Lemieux, St. Rose College
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Screening of the film “The Molly Maguires”
Monday, September 22, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Recital Hall, Center for the Arts

"Resistance in the Pennsylvania Coal Country: Past and Present"
A talk by Erik Loomis, U. Rhode Island
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Tour of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 – 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

She Said
A performance by Ursula Rucker
Saturday, October 11, 2014 – 8:00 p.m.
Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion

“Radical Politics, State Repression, and the Problem of ‘Eco-Terrorism’”
A talk by David Pellow, U. Minnesota
Monday, October 20, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

An evening of original performance by students, curated by Ursula Rucker
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 – 8:00 p.m.
Seegers Union, Red Door Café

Title TBA
A talk by Carrol Bogert, Human Rights Watch
Monday, October 27, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Title TBA
A talk by Nancy Fraser, The New School
Thursday, Nov 13, 2014 – 7:00 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall