Ignorance of the law is no defence against it

Have philosophical discussions about politics, law, and government.
Featured Article: Definition of Freedom - What Freedom Means to Me
Post Reply
User avatar
Empiricist-Bruno
Queue Moderator
Posts: 330
Joined: July 15th, 2014, 1:52 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Berkeley
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Ignorance of the law is no defence against it

Post by Empiricist-Bruno » June 15th, 2017, 10:12 am

If you do not know the law, then it may still be possible that you are the law, if you do not know yourself either. In such case, if we continue to accept that ignorance of the law is no defence against it, then we are presuming that one cannot defend himself/ herself from himself/herself. In essence, this sounds like an argument in support of suicide.

So my question is how come aren't all justice systems (all those that promote the concept that ignorance of the law isn't a valid defence against the law) busy self-destroying? Isn't it because the proponents, supporters and enablers of such justice systems are essentially wicked hypocrites? Or does it mean that the law does not truly apply to itself, but just to others? Others who believe that ignorance of the law is no defence against the law have no means to defend themselves against themselves, with the law being no other? In this case, only the law can save others from self destruction? So, others worship the law? Is this what is going on?
All you need is love- (But not the one from narcissists)

Burning ghost
Posts: 1669
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Ignorance of the law is no defence against it

Post by Burning ghost » June 16th, 2017, 4:46 am

I guess the basic principles of the law are known to most people living in the society. Given that the system is structured well enough there should be institutions in place, not only to check but to teach, how individuals partaking in certain activities come to meet the lawful requires decided upon buy the state.

If I want to build a building I need certain permits in order to proceed. The builders will not take on the job unless they know the law has been fulfilled. In this fashion those that work within the bounds of certain areas (such as construction) check and teach each other of what is needed, they in turn hire lawyers to take care of such things as this is their profession.

When it comes to things on a more individual basis we don't find people in court saying "Really? Murder is against the law?" The mistakes made on an individual level when it comes to ignorance are often either small acts, or if competing with larger organisations they are 'set up' for a fall by those in the know for some future gain. Here is where the law becomes dirty and we see the laws put in place to protect people being used to harm people and confuse the innocent into making mistakes.

The 'law' is merely a guide line that is, at some level, treated with religious reverence. It is a sorry state of affairs!

Knowledge of the law can, and will be, used in two ways. Firstly it can be used to guard and protect someone, and secondly it can be used to manipulate or attack someone. Whoever pays the most gets the best deal (on average). Then the question is more about what the people with the big money are like? If they are essentially "protectors" then the law will work in favour of the masses. If they are more inclined to guard their own interests at the expense of others, then the law works against the favour of protecting the masses.

We can also look at ignorance in different ways. There is a 'lazy' ignorance where people just act with concern or responsibility, and there is an ignorance that is simply a misfortunate kind, a genuine mistake. This is seen in circumstances where people are accused of manslaughter. They were not guilty or murder, nor responsible. Their 'laziness' of duty caused someone death and whether or not they meant it they ignored their duty. On the other hand we can have a doctor being forced to work a longer than usual shift and making a mistake. This is not an ignorance of their duty, merely a mistake that all humans are prone too. Here we find people saying they did not do their duty, when really they were doing their duty. The problem is discerning between a genuine mistake of judgement (technical error) and a neglection of duty. A drunk and/or infectiously sick doctor would be deemed as neglectful rather than making a genuine unconscious error.

In this grey area the law suffers in its exact duty! Here we have to hold up the law to scrutiny and try to find measures that best serve the majority of people understanding the cost to the few. It is much like asking who polices the police? And then who polices the police policing the police? For the requirement of general understanding we need to draw some discernible line in the sand and then when cases come close to this line have the reason and rationality to be more forgiving due to circumstances on a case by case basis which may, or may not, lead to a further adjustment within the law.

Of course, regardless of the law there is nothing physically stopping me from attempting to carry out any action. I am aware of general principles and will fight for them as best I can. If I wish to kill then I have to make the judgement of whether or not to kill based on the social attitudes rather than simply my own desires and sense of justice.

The law is essentially a empirical extension of human empathy. It should be something we turn to to investigate the complexities of events deemed "wrong" or "right".
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
-1-
Posts: 712
Joined: December 1st, 2016, 2:23 am

Re: Ignorance of the law is no defence against it

Post by -1- » June 18th, 2017, 11:30 am

Empiricist-Bruno wrote:If you do not know the law, then it may still be possible that you are the law, if you do not know yourself either. In such case, if we continue to accept that ignorance of the law is no defence against it, then we are presuming that one cannot defend himself/ herself from himself/herself. In essence, this sounds like an argument in support of suicide.

So my question is how come aren't all justice systems (all those that promote the concept that ignorance of the law isn't a valid defence against the law) busy self-destroying? Isn't it because the proponents, supporters and enablers of such justice systems are essentially wicked hypocrites? Or does it mean that the law does not truly apply to itself, but just to others? Others who believe that ignorance of the law is no defence against the law have no means to defend themselves against themselves, with the law being no other? In this case, only the law can save others from self destruction? So, others worship the law? Is this what is going on?
All justice systems which you focus on are not self-destroying because the law in the justice system does not apply to law. Your basic premise is that law applies to itself; it is one major part of your argument. This premise is a false premise.

Law does not apply to law. Law applies to humans and to human-like entities such as corporations. Law itself is not a person or a person-like entity. Hence, it can't apply to itself.

You make an other hugely invalid reference. It is beside the point, and it's very glib, but it's very false.

You say that you are the law if you don't know yourself, because you have to obey the law even if you don't know it. So if you don't know yourself, you are the law. This is a cute, but absolutely invalid logical connection.

It's logical structure is similar to saying that all things that live by photosynthesis are green. Therefore a green-eared beginner on this forum lives by photosynthesis.
"You can always live without a lover, but you can't love without a liver."

User avatar
Skydude
Posts: 50
Joined: April 18th, 2016, 2:55 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Immanuel kant
Location: Haleiwa hawaii

Re: Ignorance of the law is no defence against it

Post by Skydude » July 14th, 2017, 1:48 am

It really seems to come down to whether you view morals as A learned concept, or An innate idea that we possess at birth. If A is the case then it is to be expected for people to be ignorant of the law which may leave room for leniency in certain cases, this would need more laws to be created for the sake of determining what cases are subject to this leniency. If B is correct then there would be alot less room for differences in culture or lacking of knowledge to be valid excuse, fundamentally law cannot be effective when it relies on human interpretations being the deciding factor instead of solid and equal standards of crime and punishment.

Post Reply