Discuss the Relationship between law and morals. Consider how far the law seeks to uphold and promote moral values.
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Discuss the Relationship between law and morals. Consider how far the law seeks to uphold and promote moral values. Total marks = 30. The relationship between law and morality is not an easy one. Moral rules and legal rules have some similarities: like all rules, according to Hart, they share a general (though not necessarily universal) habit of obedience within the society to which they apply, and a "critical reflexive attitude" (a sense of "oughtness"). Moral rules and legal rules are certainly not the same: there are some legal rules that are not moral rules and vice versa. In some cases the moral view and the legal view overlap, this will be discussed later. There are several differences between law and morality. Firstly, in general, the law applies to everyone in society whereas morals are more of a personal opinion and can apply to individual groups of people. For example, the practice of Christianity and other denominations holds many moral views and lessons such as 'thou shalt not commit adultery' but this is not a law and does not bind society as a whole. The law is laid down in statute and enforced by the judiciary and police whereas moral rules are difficult to find an absolute and are enforced through social pressure and supported by an appeal to respect them.
The Catholic Church and non-religious people tend to look to the so-called "natural law" as a guide. For example, Catholics look at the natural consequences of sexual intercourse is conception: if this is what is in nature, this is what should be, and anything that interferes with this natural process is contrary to morality. Realists see moral assertions as inherently true or inherently false. There may be uncertainty and argument about their truth but they have an eternal truth or falsity independent of changes in society. Relativists argue that moral truths may change from time to time and from place to place. Three hundred years ago it was morally acceptable for a husband to beat his wife if she misbehaved. In fact, he would have been failing his duty if he did not. Such a thing would be clearly immoral today. Whether we are relativists or realists we must decide what the moral rules are, morality itself may or may not change but the public understanding of morality certainly does. We take it for granted now that all human beings are entitled to the same human rights, but only two hundred years ago the prevailing morality of Western Europe and America was that black people were less than human.
Society's attitudes to specific areas of crime demonstrate that we have a collective morality, more diverging than converging to any conclusion. If there is a close alliance between crime and moral sentiment, and if we acknowledge that the association is a healthy one, it seems clear-cut in acts that are a menace to the system we support and the rules we are set to serve. The morality or immorality of acts such as murder, rape and theft did not change over night, but their legal nature did. The test of a crime against immorality is an ongoing one. Many summary offences are crimes but the question of are they immoral is not so straight forward. When adultery is compared to having a faulty break light on a car or the license disk is on the wrong side of a car windscreen the test of morality becomes less helpful. Although it is seen that adultery is the worst act in this case, only the car driver would actually be committing an illegal offence. Therefore, although the law is continuously seeking to uphold and promote moral values it remains a continuous battle to find a balance between the legal applications and moral views in such a diverse pluralist society. Laura Wing Law Homework
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