Should the law be ethical?

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kordofany
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Should the law be ethical?

Post by kordofany » June 24th, 2018, 10:01 am

Why do some require that the law be ethical? Who has an absolute understanding of morality? Does the moral requirement of law make it an instrument of moral guardianship over our actions? The law becomes a weapon to rob our individual freedoms?
Freedom is an Idea in the mind... And reckless behavior is irrational.. I can live free inside the prison.
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Burning ghost
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Re: Should the law be ethical?

Post by Burning ghost » June 24th, 2018, 9:32 pm

If laws weren’t ethical no one would follow them. Try thinking about what you write before posting next time.
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Gertie
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Re: Should the law be ethical?

Post by Gertie » June 25th, 2018, 2:15 am

kordofany wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 10:01 am
Why do some require that the law be ethical? Who has an absolute understanding of morality? Does the moral requirement of law make it an instrument of moral guardianship over our actions? The law becomes a weapon to rob our individual freedoms?
The pragmatic answer is that we are a social species who choose to live in groups, and have found it beneficial to organise how the group interacts. And freedom to pursue one's own interests will inevitably be compromised for the beneficial goods of group living. The bigger the group, the greater the need for organising it. This can be done in lots of ways, formal (like laws) and informal. In our modern global world of large, heterogeneous, inter-related groups, it gets very complicated. So the need for agreeing certain laws which benefit us as a group are obvious, from forbidding theft and murder, to all driving on the same side of the road.


Morality comes in because it is implied by laws being beneficial, imo. Because I'd claim that morality is grounded in the well-being of conscious creatures, as Harris puts it. So if a law is harmful to the well-being of conscious creatures, then it is immoral. And when laws increase well-being, they are moral, and yes, that's their ultimate justification imo.


The difficulty comes in making those judgements in a complex world of many competing and sometimes contradictory individual interests. There are different philosophical approaches to morality which can help us find moral bases, or touchstones, or rules of thumb, for law-making (eg utilitiarianism, virtue ethics, deontology), and social contract theory. Personally I like Rawls' Veil of Ignorance as a tool for guiding us towards a better, more moral, approach to the Social Contract.

But I'd say none are a perfect one-size fits-all solution. In real life the complexity (and subjectivity of 'well-being') means we have to settle for 'good enough' imo, rather than moral perfection, and we've developed a rough consensus that some strategies work better than others in modern western democracies. Which is democracy, under-girded by a notion of Rights to counter-act the danger of the 'tyranny of the majority'. If we look at history, that's not bad.

kordofany
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Re: Should the law be ethical?

Post by kordofany » June 25th, 2018, 3:50 am

[quote]The pragmatic answer is that we are a social species who choose to live in groups, and have found it beneficial to organise how the group interacts. And freedom to pursue one's own interests will inevitably be compromised for the beneficial goods of group living. The bigger the group, the greater the need for organising it. This can be done in lots of ways, formal (like laws) and informal. In our modern global world of large, heterogeneous, inter-related groups, it gets very complicated. So the need for agreeing certain laws which benefit us as a group are obvious, from forbidding theft and murder, to all driving on the same side of the road.

[/quote]

I fully agree with this point.

[quote]Morality comes in because it is implied by laws being beneficial, imo. Because I'd claim that morality is grounded in the well-being of conscious creatures, as Harris puts it. So if a law is harmful to the well-being of conscious creatures, then it is immoral. And when laws increase well-being, they are moral, and yes, that's their ultimate justification imo.[/quote]

Here we will begin to dive in the wavy surroundings around the development of a specific concept of well-being. Because judging the kind of life in luxury will depend on a very personal vision.So a word of well-being as an uncontrolled word can not be a function of another concept.

[quote]But I'd say none are a perfect one-size fits-all solution. In real life the complexity (and subjectivity of 'well-being') means we have to settle for 'good enough' imo, rather than moral perfection, and we've developed a rough consensus that some strategies work better than others in modern western democracies. Which is democracy, under-girded by a notion of Rights to counter-act the danger of the 'tyranny of the majority'. If we look at history, that's not bad.[/quote]

I agree with you that there is nothing perfect. But we have not yet been able to establish a clear definition of morality, let alone moral perfection. It is true that democracy is good. But good for who? There are human systems that feel comfortable only under the rule of the individual, as is the case for tribes in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries. But that this system brings them great stability and perhaps even luxury (according to their vision).
Freedom is an Idea in the mind... And reckless behavior is irrational.. I can live free inside the prison.
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chewybrian
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Re: Should the law be ethical?

Post by chewybrian » June 26th, 2018, 5:52 am

kordofany wrote:
June 24th, 2018, 10:01 am
Why do some require that the law be ethical? Who has an absolute understanding of morality? Does the moral requirement of law make it an instrument of moral guardianship over our actions? The law becomes a weapon to rob our individual freedoms?
Everyone has an absolute understanding of morality because morality is personal and subjective. I can decide if someone else's actions appear moral to me, but they have their own morality, and they may consider their actions in a different light. There is no broad agreement about what makes actions moral or not.

Ethics is implied or expressed elements of the social contract. It could be holding the door open for someone carrying a bunch of packages, turning in a wallet you found to the police station, or not stuffing the ballot box. Unethical behavior may or may not be illegal. There can be small disagreements, but there is broad agreement on most issues as to what behavior is ethical and what is not.

Laws should be driven by ethics, but not by morality. They should be a subset of ethics where the damage from unethical behavior is serious enough to warrant laying down a law, and the possible infringement on the rights of the individual is outweighed by the good that comes from following the law. You wouldn't make a law that you have to hold the door open for someone, even if pretty much everyone agrees it is the right thing to do. But you would make it illegal to stuff the ballot box.

If your intent in writing the law is to impose your own morality on others, you are probably crossing the line; this is not a justification for law, and you should be able to find other sound reasons for the law if it is just. Closing the bars at 2 a.m. is intended to protect people from themselves. It does infringe in a small way on individual rights, but the intent is reasonable enough. But, a law closing all the stores on Sunday in order to encourage church attendance is driven by personal morals, and not by ethics, so it should not stand.

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