Joseph Chan Lecture: The Moral Limits of Violence in Political Resistance


Location: 2148 Jenkins Nanovic Halls

Joseph Chan Faculty 0


In this talk, Joseph Chan examines whether violence in political resistance against state injustice is morally permissible. Contemporary analytic political and legal philosophy seldom discusses this question, and the literature of nonviolent disobedience does not offer much help. The most relevant literature seems to be the ethics of war and the ethics of individual self-defense, in which four principles are commonly employed to assess the moral limits of force – just cause, reasonable prospect of success, necessity, and proportionality. This talk examines the extent to which these principles can provide practical moral guidance for participants in resistance movements that are highly dynamic and open-ended. 


Joseph Chan is a Global Scholar and Visiting Professor in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He has taught at the Department of Politics and Public Administration,The University of Hong Kong for three decades. Since 2021, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS), Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and will be a Distinguished Research Fellow at the RCHSS from February 2023. His recent research interests span Confucian political philosophy, comparative political theory, and contemporary theories of democracy and liberalism. He is the author of "Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times" (Princeton, 2014) and co-edited with Melissa Williams and Doh Shin "East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide" (Cambridge, 2016).