The essential question raised by today's question is simple:
"Should you disobey laws you are morally opposed to, or by disobeying those laws do you destroy the state/country/nation in which you live?"
Thoreau made it simple: if you morally oppose a law, you are justified in breaking it. You do more damage to yourself and your conscience by perpetuating an unjust system and an unjust law.
This, of course, is a result of the fact that law, by the 1800s, begins to reflect a series of rights instead of a series of rules. Thanks to the Enlightenment (which built off the great steps forward that occurred throughout the ancient world), the fundamental manner in which people conceived of the law changed. No longer a series of rules that would simply insure survival and/or benefit the ruling person or group, law was thereafter a set of rights common amongst all people living in that society.
Of course, as said in class today, this opens up a number of other dilemmas with which the modern world has to deal. Thoreau raises a very important issue, that is, if the law is open to ratification by all citizens, and citizens seemingly have the power to create law, what happens when one of those citizens feels the law is wrong, and is s/he justified in breaking that law?
So, what are your thoughts about Civil Disobedience? Are you more Thoreauian or Socratesian? (Yes, I made up both those words)