Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Snow, Nancy

Second Advisor

Tobin, Theresa

Third Advisor

Foster, Susanne


This dissertation explores and develops an account of the moral obligation to engage in resistance struggles against oppression and it does so by situating oppression squarely within the framework of neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. It is argued that when oppression is investigated through the lens of virtue ethics the harmful and damning nature of oppression must be understood as a substantial moral, not merely political, problem. In short, it is shown that oppression acts in a variety of ways as a barrier for the achievement of flourishing for the oppressed. Turning from, and building on, this investigative and largely descriptive analysis of oppression’s substantial harms, this project moves to establish an obligation to resist oppression. Using the conception of v-rules, as advanced by Rosalind Hursthouse, such an obligation is established and then given radical content. In the end, the resistance to oppression which agents must undertake cannot be satisfied through mere dispositional attitudes but include the deployment of active resistance struggles. Our struggle against oppression must be practically informed by organizing principles and the strategies and tactics we enact and must place a premium on efficacy. The overwhelming need for oppression to be actively and effectively combated by the oppressed, given the tremendous moral damage that oppression inflicts, necessitates the use of radical actions. It is through radical and revolutionary actions and movements that oppression can be resisted and, hopefully, destroyed.

Included in

Philosophy Commons