Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goodness of Moral Laws?

In last week's discussion I pointed out that the British Parliament is ruled by a collection of differently scaled documents rather than one central constitution. This is largely made possible because of long standing British tradition. When dealing with a constitution we realize that the written words are far less important than the practiced traditions. It is the same in the case of law.

What is stopping me from bashing someone over the head, with our friend, the overly used shovel? Is it the fact that a word was written down by someone in a position of power? Or is it fear of the judicial system coming down upon me? Many people commit crime because they believe they can get away with it. I believe there are many things I could do without the law noticing, yet, I do not do them. Why is this? We could say that MB does not exceed MC, but there is something else stopping me. Perhaps if that equation included Utils. But why do I lose utility if I break a certain law beyond the eyes of the state? The typical answer will be the societal morals that have been ingrained in me.
Immanuel Kant believes “The constitution of a state is eventually based on the morals of its citizens, which, in its turns, is based on the goodness of this [social moral] constitution.”

This moral constitution, or idea of peace, that can guide a society sounds good until you look at some of the costs. For thousands of years women have had a lesser place than men in society. Think for a moment of 'Dr.' Laura, a conservative radio personality. She will be one of the first to separate men from women and tell women how they must act for men. She holds these beliefs not from any critical academic thought but from tradition and upbringing.
Societies laws can envelop people into lesser standing through their inability or unwillingness to fight. In many cases, tradition's stability and test of time can be touted as the argument against change.

It is a very personal belief that if someone is given a right then all, who would be able to use it practically, should be able to. Discrimination that stems from societies morals is the cause of much hidden grief. Though I believe that a right should be offered to all groups rather than just those in power, I must remind you that what is and isn't a right can certainly be debated.

Even a moral law can be an impure one.
We should not blindly follow the past but instead think for ourselves and find what we believe to be inherently true. That is law because it is axiomatic.

1 comment:

  1. I think that this is indeed a great point. We even took the time to discuss how each person's morals do differ from others. Morals do change through out time. I think things get kind of complicated when we take a look at how morals have changed in a normative way saying that the at this current place in time that the moral structure is better or worse. Since laws are in many ways a reflection of morality they do age and become no longer useful in some cases, but the fact we have this "moral compass" gives us something to follow in an ever changing world a base line structure to guide are individual actions.