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"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." 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. Morality can be anything. Law requires a definition. Law is a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formerly recognised as binding, or enforced by a controlling society. Law must be universal to all; problems occur when issues of personal choice arise and people are forced to do things against their own will. Law is also backed up by the threat of a prison or other punishments. A moral is a principal of right or wrong behaviour sanctioned by or resulting from ones conscience of ones ethical judgement. Morality is personal to the individual. 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 rules. This is called Primary Law. It is this law that tempts us to argue that law and morality are one and the same thing. ...read more.


On the one hand Professor Hart holds that there is no necessary relationship between a legal system and the ideas of justice or morality. A legal system can function effectively though it is neither just nor moral. Professor Hart argues that the question of what is law must be separated from the question of whether it was moral or just. Hart warns us against the dangers of 'populism'; political ideas and activities that are intended to represent ordinary people's needs and wishes. Hart also argues why should the conventional morality of a few members of the population be justification for preventing people doing what they want? This is based on the theory that most people's views are coloured by superstition and prejudice. Both Hart and Devlin raise important issues. Devlin's view is pragmatic and focused on the majority rule. Harts is more humanistic and individual. Lord Devlin thought that society required certain moral principals to be observed. Even if the public's views were changing, the breach of these principals was an offence against society not just against the injured party Devlin believed in a policy and public interest view, provided 'society' does not mind you can do anything. ...read more.


Some people may argue morally yes, but English law says no. The law in numerous ways upholds and promotes moral values of society. Over the last one hundred years society has become more tolerant with regard to sexual and other matter. The law has reflected this e.g. The Abortion Act 1967 and Sunday Trading Act 1995. However, there are areas where the views of society have become less tolerant. Society has felt it is now morally wrong that rape cannot be committed within marriage. Sir Matthew Howard stated that a woman is in contract with a man to have sex whenever, this view was established in 1976. In R v R (1991), the case went to the House of Lords, they stated that it was an offence. When the views of society, what society views as morally right or wrong change e.g. rape in marriage, then the law tends to change to support its view. However, nit may take some time and pressure group and interested parties to change the law. The relationship between law and morality is not an easy one. The legal system presupposes a certain amount of morality, because if law is not essentially moral there is no easy explanation of the obligation to obey. ...read more.

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