LAW AND MORALS
WHAT ARE LAWS AND MORALS
Morality is linked to the beliefs, values and principles we hold about how we should behaviour in society. The word ‘morality’ itself is comes from the Latin word ‘moralitas’ and it covers areas such as sex before marriage, abortion, contraception and differences in sexual preferences.
Morals often involve issues of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, however, sometimes, one person’s wrong is another’s right. A philosopher, John Mackie, argues that ‘there are no objective values’, suggesting that morals are subjective in nature as they are created by human beings.
Meanwhile, Laws are rules that are enforced by the Government, the Parliament, and other public bodies. They are aimed to control and direct human behaviour and they deal with many issues such as anti-social behaviours.
THE BASIC NATURE OF MORALS
Morals are change over time and differ from culture to culture, and from individual to individual, although nearly all the cultures are against extreme behaviours such as murder and rape. Morality often finds its roots in religion. For example, the bible provides a moral code for Christian communities and it teaches Christians what is acceptable and what is not. Meanwhile, the Koran offers a different moral code for Muslim communities and it also teaches Muslims what is and what is not acceptable.
Laws will often try to reflect the moral values accepted by the majority of the people, but the law is unlikely to be exactly the same as the common religious code. An example of this is adultery. Adultery is not accepted by Christians and Muslims as it goes against their moral code, but this is not considered illegal in Christian countries such as England. However, in some Muslim countries, it is a crime to commit adultery and worthy of punishment.
In England and Wales, there has been a noticeable move away from religious beliefs, and the way the law has developed demonstrates this. For example, abortion was legalised in 1967 and yet many people still believe it is morally wrong. The case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA (1986) showed us there are still people who believe that it is morally wrong to give contraceptive advice and support to underage girls, despite the evidence of the scale of the need demonstrated in the figures of teenage pregnancies.