Legal vs. Moral Obligation

A review of two documents, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, by Henry David Thoreau, and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, by Martin Luther King.

This paper discusses the value of a legal obligation as opposed to a moral one. The paper makes references to two documents, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King. Both Thoreau and King address the issue of moral obligation versus legal obligation, in which an individual experiences conflict with the government and society as s/he tries to follow his/her free will as a member of the society and the rules and laws imposed by the government at the same time.
“In his discourse, Thoreau asserts, “That government is best which governs least,” which means to say that the least government intervention in the society results to a better state of civil society. This is because he thinks that the government is susceptible to manipulation by people with vested interests, who consider the government as an institution that can be used to provide greater privileges to other people and not the society in general. Thoreau contends, ?But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.”