• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Law and Morals

Extracts from this document...


Distinguish between law and morals. Evaluate whether the law upholds the moral values of society. Sir John Salmond referred to the law as being 'the body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice'. Morals, on the other hand, refer to what a person, or community, believes to be right or wrong. This can be influenced by the law, but more often morality is affected by different factors for different people, and includes agents such as religion, the media, upbringing and peers. There are further differences between law and morals. Morality develops overtime while law can be introduced instantly. This can be seen through views on homosexuality, where society now has a greater acceptance of such couples than perhaps even 20 years ago. Nowadays, the debate stands as to whether or not legislation should be introduced which allows gay couples to parent children. It is arguable though, that it is the change in moral values that prompt changes in the law. Also, as morals are voluntary codes of conduct, they may be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce in today's pluralist society. Morals affecting the law are ageless. In 'The Changing Law', Lord Denning noted that the Christian faith influenced the evolution of common law. This was most famously seen through Lord Atkin's 'neighbour test', established in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson 1932. The moral (Christian) concept reflected society's views on the duty of care manufacturers owed consumers, which may not have been the case some years before that. Morals are still effective today, as seen in R v R 1991. ...read more.


Those against euthanasia would believe Leslie Burke's comments to be morally right, but as the law does not yet recognise 'the right to live' in any legislation, it is not upholding the moral values of society. Although Burke's comments do not clarify the law on euthanasia one way or another, his 'right to live' campaign does stress the importance of "the patient/victim" and their wishes. As long as this is the case, it will be virtually impossible to decide the law on euthanasia by legislation, and a case-by-case basis is likely to be the only way to reach satisfactory conclusions. As the subject of law and morals is such a vast one, it is no surprise that there are several different views and theories. Perhaps the most significant is the Hart-Devlin debate; that is the libertarian approach versus the moralistic view. Professor Hart's stance on issues derives from John Stuart Mill's 'harm principle' established in On Liberty 1859. Here Mill stated that society should only intervene in an individual's freedom if this stops the individual from harming others. This led Hart to reinforce Mill's libertarian view concerning immoral but private acts in his essay 'Law, Liberty and Morality'. He argues that immoral acts do not greatly affect the integrity of society, as society does not hold the same morals. This is also the view of French sociologist Durkheim, who stated that it is impossible to find moral values that would be acceptable to all members of modern society. This ties in with Hart's belief that law and morals should be kept entirely separate, as morality is a matter of private judgement. ...read more.


However, the fact that there have been no proposals to extend the rights of same-sex couples under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, could be interpreted as the moral values of society being taken into account, after all, the view of Summerskill is not widely accepted in the country and an Act that goes against this 'morally wrong' view could cause more public outcry than is necessary. However, this has not stopped cloning, another controversial subject, being outlawed in Britain. Dr Patrick Dixon believes the law to be too liberal when it comes to cloning, and that it is all too easy for a clone to be inserted into the mother outside of Britain, only for her to give birth within the country. Dixon also states that cloning is 'all to do with the rights of the parent and nothing to do with the welfare of the child'. This is a view shared by many, as cloning is not accepted as the norm in this country but this moral view has not been enough to introduce legislation to curtail the growth of cloning. This suggests that the law does not always uphold the moral view of society, or perhaps keep up with the changing 'norms of society'. To conclude, the law does appear to uphold morals as seen through homosexual couples being unable to legally parent children, as society at the moment would consider this to be morally wrong. However, other controversial matters remain untouched by the law, as seen in euthanasia and cloning issues, and so the law does not seem to uphold morals or conflict with them. The changing views of society seem to suggest that it is the morals of society upholding the law. Without morals, the law would not appear to uphold anything. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Machinery of Justice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Machinery of Justice essays

  1. Critically analyse the relationship between law and justice.

    If a person is found guilty (or liable) in the courts, there is a structured route of appeals, which include their own courts (the court of appeal, the house of lords). However, the right to appeal is not automatic, as the defendant must prove that there was a procedural inaccuracy or if new evidence has arisen.

  2. Law and Morality. Within the justice system there is a genuine relationship between law ...

    Most laws have a moral contract, for instance laws surrounding squatters right's and tax laws. Also, because we live in Britain - a multicultural society people hold different opinions towards issues on abortion, homosexuality and contraception. Morals that apply to one person may contrast to another's.

  1. R v David Smith. - ABH, criminal law

    Sentencing: The maximum available penalty for Assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (section 47, Offences against the persons Act 1861) is 5 years imprisonment. Obviously it is not a standardised rule that this is given, and it is important to look at cases and relevant authorities in order to ascertain a correct and just punishment for Mr.

  2. Free essay

    Examine the relationship between law and morals. Consider the extent to which the law ...

    that this was the legal principles allowing for some flexibility in the law. To appreciate the notion of morality, we must look first at the bases of each religion as this is where the idea of morality for different social/religious groups was originally cited e.g.

  1. Why do young people join gangs and other subcultures? How does a criminal sub ...

    The six focal concerns are... * Trouble. They accept that life involves violence and they will not run away from fights. * Toughness. Males ought to demonstrate the qualities of manliness, being able to drink, play sport, etc. * Smartness.

  2. A critical evaluation of labelling theory.

    They argued that due to the nature of capitalist society more attention is drawn to the crimes of the working class, while crimes of the ruling class tend to go un-noticed. Labelling theorists fail to focus much on the obvious connection between the economic order and the criminal justice system.

  1. The Defence of the Corporate Veil - Parent Companies Beware!

    Exceptions to the basic principles / further exceptions or inroads? Notwithstanding these basic principles of separate corporate personality, there are certain situations where the English Courts have shown themselves willing to �lift the veil of incorporation� - i.e. to ignore or set aside the separate legal personality of a company.

  2. Law and Morals

    An example can be seen in the case of R v R which changed the law so that rape within marriage became a crime. It was viewed that the wife was legally seen as almost the property of the husband via the marriage agreement.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work