What if a citizen does not accept all laws?

Are there exceptions, when it's not reasonable?

Or are laws so "well-developed" so that one should believe in their rationality without questioning?

Enforcement is of course quite hard quality, but this doesn't take in account, whether it's "individually rational". Intuitively any law can be enforced, but it doesn't necessarily appeal justified for all.

A particular example of such domain would be ideas about restricting speech.

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    Not a legal question. Perhaps a good candidate for philosophy or politics.SE.
    – bdb484
    Sep 16 '21 at 18:56
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    Define "accept". Also decide on a system of government: a absolute theocratic monarchy is different from an democratic constitutional republic.
    – sharur
    Sep 16 '21 at 19:04
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    You don't have to accept anything, but your non-accceptance will not prevent it from being the law, and will not prevent the courts from being able to enforce the law against you. The usual remedy for those who disagree with the law in a democracy is the voting ballot.
    – JBentley
    Sep 17 '21 at 10:08

I am not sure what you mean by "accept". A citizen need not agree that any particular law is desirable, or good policy, or even rational. What a citizen must do is comply with all laws, or risk proceedings to enforce them, criminal or civil depending on the law in question and the specific circumstances.

More exactly all valid laws must be complied with. In the US and many other places there are mechanisms for challenge laws as invalid.

It is not generally a defense against an accusation of breaking a law that the law is not rational.

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    "It is not generally a defense against an accusation of breaking a law that the law is not rational." That said, jury nullification is a thing, and if the law is sufficiently irrational, it could be a good strategy.
    – Ryan_L
    Sep 16 '21 at 20:19
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    @mavavilj: "Freedom of speech", in a US context at least, has nothing to do with the rationality of a law, but rather its validity. The power of the US government is limited by the constitution, which sets limits on the sort of laws that can be passed.
    – sharur
    Sep 16 '21 at 20:39
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    "totalitarianism" is a situation in which the government claims and largely executes total control, not recognizing any rights of citizens, or any other institution that can challenge the state. It has nothing to do with whether residents see the laws as moral. Sep 16 '21 at 21:15
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    @Ryan_L Yes there is Jury nullification,. at least in the US and some other places. If the jury agrees that might work. But it rarely occurs in practice, the judge will instruct the jury against it, and it is risky because it requires admitting the breaking of the law, usually. Sep 16 '21 at 21:34
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    @mavavilj whether someone thinks a law is worth obeying is entirely irrelevant to the consequences one faces for failing to obey it. Or perhaps it is better to say that the rationale behind a given law and one's belief that the law is unjust must be weighed against the probability of being punished and the severity of the punishment.
    – phoog
    Sep 16 '21 at 22:30

Is it necessary that a citizen must accept all laws? Or are laws so "well-developed" so that one should believe in their rationality without questioning?

No. At the outset, laws might be unconstitutionally or impermissibly vague. One somewhat recent example from the U.S. is reflected in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018) (similarly U.S. v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019)). Statutory vagueness strikes the presumption that such laws are enforceable, let alone rational. If everyone took as axiom the premise that laws are robust and rational enough to accept them without questioning, statutes would never be declared null and void in a country's top court.

Additionally, many countries incorporate the notion of objection to a law on the basis of one's conscience. That notion is not limited to one's refusal to perform military service, but also spans other areas that touch on a person's most fundamental principles (example: Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act) and oftentimes involve or are premised on natural law theories.


One thing in a comment of an above answer that I feel strongly enough deserves to be its own answer. No, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification Jury nullification has been a part of the civil history of several countries that use Jury trials, including the United States. A citizen who is part of a jury need not accept the validity of any law that a defendant is being tried under. This was often done in the slavery era, but can still pop up in things like drug cases and the like.

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