Burton Zwiebach

Title: Professor Emeritus
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center/Queens College
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. Columbia University
Research Interests: Constitutional Law, Political Theory, Philosophy of law.

Burton Zwiebach taught Political Theory at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  He received a BA from City College and received B.A. in law from Columbia University.  He was admitted to the bar in 1958.  He later earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1964.

In 1975, Professor Zwiebach published his book, “Civility and disobedience.”  The book examined the problems of political obligation: when are we obligated to obey the laws? It presents a critique of traditional justifications of obligation – especially of social contract theory – and attempts to develop a fresh theory of obligation as both justified and limited by the need to substitute the culture of civility for the violence and barbarism of pre-political society. Civility, it is argued, can be attained by the creation of a common political life, characterised by equality, liberty, participation, and accountability of public authority. Dr Zwiebach’s argument on behalf of a broadened conception of civility and disobedience was a significant contribution to the important dialogue on political obligation, on a more civilised notion as ‘common life’, on ‘right’, ‘politics’, and on the strengths and weaknesses of the theory and practice of liberalism.

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