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Explain the distinction between the law and morals and consider the importance of the connection between them?

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Introduction

Explain the distinction between the law and morals and consider the importance of the connection between them? Law and morals have historically always been in conflict with each other. Before trying to define them as a relationship we must define them separately. A moral is a principal of right or wrong behaviour sanctioned by or resulting from ones conscience of ones ethical judgement. Morality is seen to be personal to the individual however some see morality as universal for example in the issues of murder and rape most if not all of society would condemn these two acts morally. Morals can only be backed up by ones conscience or by social condemnation of the individual. In any legal system there will be some overlap between legal and moral ideologies. Many have tried to define law but no one has yet conceded a definition that is universally agreed upon. Therefore in order to gain an understanding of what law is we must look at the differences between the law and morality. Law and morality are clearly closely linked but there are ways in which they differ. Morality further inevitably depends on voluntary codes of conduct whereas law is enforceable. Breaches of moral rules are not usually subject to any formal adjudication while breaches of law will be ruled on by a formal legal system usually in the courts. ...read more.

Middle

Within the law there have been many contradictions, first and foremost in the cases of Brown and Wilson. In the case of Brown sadomasochistic gay men were involved, these were convicted whereas in Wilson which involved a man branding his wife's buttocks, there was no conviction, however a conclusion could be drawn that the reason Brown was convicted and Wilson wasn't was due to the morality held by the judge in the two separate cases, it was seen as immoral for Brown to do it but it wasn't seen as immoral for Wilson, even though in the case of Wilson medical treatment needed to be administered but in Brown it did not. If we took John Stuart Mills approach to the law then this kind of behaviour in both cases would be seen a moral choice between the people involved and not something that the law should meddle in as long as the their behaviour did not harm others. The extent as to morality plays a part in the decisions here is great as in the judgement of the Wilson case it would seem morally right that a man could harm his wife and cause her to need medical treatment however it is immoral for adults of 30 years and over to harm each other in a way that did not need medical attention. Furthermore it was decided in the case of Slingsby that consent was valid as a defence to Actual Bodily Harm in cases of vigorous sexual activity, however in Brown consent was not valid. ...read more.

Conclusion

If the jury can make their own decision on what can be an ordinary reasonable person this allows them to bring their own moral judgments into their decision. It seems apparent that through the law and in the many cases discussed that the question of morality plays a heavy and sizeable role in the outcome of law in the UK. Some cases it will be argued that morality has gone too far for example in the cases of Peter Sutcliffe regarding diminished responsibility and in the case of Brown, regarding homosexual activities versus heterosexual activities. Professor Hart says that society cannot exist without a form of morality which mirrors and supplements legal rules. Lord Devlin however says society requires the observance of certain moral principles and, even if public opinion is changing, the law should still support those moral principles. It does seem that Professor Harts view is of more substance as without law their would be no set of codes of value in which justice can take place and no way in which people can be held to account for their actions, what decides what is right and wrong should be morality along with the law as without morality their would be no point in the law as no one would understand what is right and what is wrong. It has been accepted above that sometimes it can go too far and law cannot play enough part in cases however morality still, I believe is an essential part of the legal system in this country today, ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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