I would like to know if there is a term for the following situation/fact:

For a certain situation, for a certain country there is a law, and because I live in this country I have to adhere to it.

But sometimes there is a higher law, the inner law in someones heart / understanding, to act according to this, which is opposite to the law of the country.

So there is some kind of "overruling" by the "inner" law.

For example: My country is in war with another one (only an example). I'm in the army. The military law says that I have to fight. But my inner law says "no" to it.

In jurisprudence there are lots of terms for such situations. Is there a term for this? Maybe something like "priority of conscience", maybe a latin expression?

Thanks a lot in advance


In the case of military conscription, someone who does not serve due to a moral opposition to war in general (and not just a particular war) is called a conscientious objector and in most countries, is usually allowed to perform alternative mandatory government service in lieu of military service if conscripted.

In the case of other laws, where someone intentionally doesn't follow the law for moral reasons, the person is said to be engaging in civil disobedience which is not a legal defense and does not relieve the person from any punishment or consequences for their actions (except in cases where the failure to follow a laws is due to a legally protected right to free exercise of one's religion).

No pithy latin legal terms for this come readily to mind, although I'm sure that some obscure ones that have largely fallen out of common usage exist.

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    For the other side of the same problem: '"At the end of the 20th century," Judge Seidel said today, "no one has the right to ignore his conscience when it comes to killing people on behalf of the power structure."' nyt from 1992 about Germans being charged for actions that were compulsory when they were taken. – user4460 Aug 24 '17 at 16:03

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