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Outline the concepts of law, authority and justice. Explain and analyse the reasons for punishment.

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Outline the concepts of law, authority and justice Explain and analyse the reasons for punishment Laws in this sense mean prescriptive legal rules, as opposed to descriptive patterns of cause and effect in nature. They are the laws of society's making, rather than the laws of science. There are certain characteristics of these laws; they are designed and implicated by society for society, they reflect the conventions of the society which generates them, they are prescriptive which means that their members of that society must or must not do certain things. They can be violated, however sanctions are applied to those who do violate them, and sanctions are the prerogative and responsibility of the official government present in that society. The official government has the right and duty to monitor and modify the laws of the state, and citizens have to assimilate the laws and obey them, they cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance or personal preference. Whenever a group of individuals live in a social group or society, they make rules which stipulate what behaviour is acceptable, and what behaviour is unacceptable and punishments for breaking the rules. These rules are what make up the laws within that society, this suggests that the rules and laws vary from society to society, and even within the same society over time. This is the case because the laws reflect the values of that society which change over time. ...read more.


Authority in morality comes from two main sources the divine and the human. According to the Divine Command theory, God is seen as the supreme moral governor, and using God as a source of authority means using your interpretation of God as a source of authority. According to Natural Law there is a moral pattern designed into nature by God, authority exercises itself through our ability to reason towards the natural law and law itself. Contractarianism basically states that all humans should cooperate with one another, that way the greatest good is maximised. Justice in Plato's mind was the ultimate virtue, perceivable and achievable only by a person whose intellect, will and emotions all work in harmony. There have been several community-centred approaches to justice for example those of Marx and Rawls, these have common principles; we all have a moral obligation not to hurt others in the satisfaction of our aims of life-fulfilment. We all have a moral obligation to help others worse of than ourselves, in their quest for fulfilment. Rawls, like many classical liberals believe in the social contract theory, and he thought that for justice to be greatest in society, everyone needs to join up to a social contract. Justice then for Rawls, is an equitable distribution of all the available goods in society. There are three types of justice, these being; distributive, retributive and corrective. Principles of distributive justice are normative principles designed to allocate goods in limited supply relative to demand. ...read more.


would claim that the car was sinful for not working, and refuse to give it fuel until it worked, they would find out why the car is not working and then put it right, and this is what needs to be done with humans who commit offences. The reformative theory of punishment sees little value in mere punishment; punishment is only valuable insofar as it changes the attitudes and therefore future behaviour patterns of anti-social offenders. The reformative approach is obviously about reforming the offender instead of mere punishment, hence the name reformative. Therefore, compulsive thieves (kleptomaniacs) are given psychiatric help to overcome their obsession, violent muggers are made to face their victims and the consequences of their assault and robbery, and the unemployed shoplifter is trained in a skill and given a job. Therefore, this approach actually holds punishment as only part of the process of rehabilitation. The idea included in this theory is that the unpleasant aspects of punishment will teach/train/condition the offender not to offend again. Finally, the deterrent/utilitarian theory of punishment, which Jeremy Bentham was an advocate. Bentham said that 'all punishment in itself is evil...it ought only to be admitted in as far as it promises to exclude some greater evil.' He also believed that punishment was only good if it achieved the greatest welfare for the greatest number. Those rules which prohibit anti-social behaviour have to be enforced, from a utilitarian perspective, to prevent community life from being uncivilised. Thomas Taylor ...read more.

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