Laws and Morals

I love getting feedback, whether it be to one of my own articles or to a comment left on another site, and I certainly have plenty to think on and respond to today.

bq. I agree that “what is right for me is not right for everyone” does not apply to laws – Laws are absolute. It does however apply to morals, as morals are subjective. Everyone’s morals differ – Some people have stronger morals than others. Some people have no morals at all. For instance, how is it morally acceptable in some regions for a man to have multiple wives, but it is morally wrong in other areas for that same occurence. Vegans think it is morally wrong for you to eat meat, but that doesn’t strike me as being a bad thing. I also don’t find it morally wrong for two men to have sex, but there is a large population of people who do find it wrong. “#”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=103#comment-246

The question that I have that comes immediately to mind here is this — are not all our _absolute_ laws based on _subjective_ morals, according to this reasoning? Does this not then make said laws subjective? How does something based on subjectivity somehow gain absolutivity? All laws in all nations are based on some set of morals. This is a necessity. It is, in fact, the only possibility. Laws are the practical application of an abstract value. If we follow this reasoning through to its logical conclusion, then we have to admit that anyone can establish and follow any laws that they want, since they are based on some value system, some system of morality that is relative to the individual. Since your moral system is different than mine, then your laws cannot apply to me, unless I agree with whatever moral your law is based upon. In essence, if I kill someone, I am justified, so long as my moral system allows for the killing of another human being. You cannot apply your intolerant law against murder to me because your law is based on your value that murder is wrong, a value which I happen to disagree with. Your moral, and hence your law, is not right for me and therefore cannot be applied to me, since it would restrict my freedom to do and believe as I choose.

In actual practice, of course, we see that this simply cannot work. Laws exist so that large groups of people may live together in peace. This is the primary reason, I believe, why government exists, to enforce the peace. Laws, however, _must_ be based on some set of morality. Laws are practical statements of morals. The local governing body simply bases their laws upon those values that are most likely to ensure the greatest amount of peace and least amount of conflict. Sometimes, they get it right; sometimes they don’t. In the case of the previous example, someone has to decide what value to enforce in order to keep the peace and the one that works best is enforcing the sanctity of life. (Notice that this is a functional, rather than an ethical, definition at the moment, one that ignores any mention of right and wrong.)

bq. So the fact remains that as long as abortion IS legal in certain areas, it is a moral issue and not a law. When it is a moral issue, the morality of it is personal to each person who thinks on it. So, in your opinion, abortion is morally wrong. I however live in an area where abortion is legal, and although I do not agree with the reasons why a lot of women have abortions, I do not think that I am one to judge someone for their decision to have one, as their morals are obviously different than my own.

Everything is a moral issue. Every deed, every thought, every word spoken is based upon some moral. But as I have stated before, laws are also based upon morals, and what legalizing abortion says to me is that it is ok to commit murder, so long as the child is not yet born. Of course, the underlying value here that is the real center of debate is whether a fetus can be called human. I know of few people who do not at least _claim_ to value the sanctity of life. The difference in the argument centers on the fact that some people believe human life begins at conception and some believe that human life begins at birth. This is both a philosophical and theological point and not one that is likely to be settled anytime soon, since science cannot seem to adequately answer this question (lending further proof to my conclusion that science is ill-equipped to handle the questions of beginnings, but that is an argument for another time). Unfortunately, this also means that the abortion debate will not be settled anytime soon, either.

8 thoughts on “Laws and Morals”

  1. You’re correct – The abortion debate will probably never end.

    I spoke with my husband last night, regarding laws being “absolute” and in fact that they are based on morals. Laws are written based on the general conceived perception that the vast majority of the population shares in the moral beliefs of the lawmakers. So, I agree that laws are based on morals. But the majority of the lawmakers are your typical white, Christian males – Most minorities don’t have representation when these laws are written.

    And, laws change when their morality becomes out-of-date. Recently in Canada the definition of marriage changed from “a union between a man and a woman” to be “a union between two people”. This is showing that the lawmakers are under the impression that the general populations they represent believe that homosexuals have the right to marriage – Although, it is widely known that there are still people out there who think that homosexual marriage is a travesty. Yet the laws regarding marriage still changed – Which means that almost every law can change over time.

    This is similar to the abortion debate. Here, it is legal for abortion, whereas in other areas it is not. This law does not represent 100% of any population. It is impossible to represent 100% of any population, but 100% of the population has to abide by the written laws of their region or be prosecuted for their actions. This is common sense, because even if we reject the certain law that we violate, we will still be punished for our “so called” crime. So, logic comes into play that it is in one’s own self interest to abide by the written laws, even if they are laws that you do not agree with, or apply to your own morals.

    If we simplify the argument and compare abortion to murder (as people who believe that human life begins at conception are wont to do) then of course we can say that abortion is unethical. Yet, if there is no law stating that abortion is not moral (IE: illegal) then can it not be considered a moral issue, and lot a legal issue – In which the people who decide to use that particular service are in the right, for there is no governing moral based law saying that they are wrong. Because there is no governing morality on the subject, aren’t they free to do as they chose?

    So, if abortion is not illegal, isn’t that then saying that the lawmakers do not believe that the general population feels it is immoral? In which case, everyone has the right to his or her own opinion.

    It comes down to the argument of pro-choice versus pro-life. With pro-life, there are no other options. The child should be born, and that is that. I myself am pro-choice, with an underlying moral belief of pro-life. Yet I feel that other pro-choicers have the option to decide if they chose life or abortion, and that is their right.

    Just throwing around some ideas . . . .

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Phoe and franky. Definitely some good things to think about, and I will address them soon.

    franky, I changed the font. Hopefully, that will make it easier to read. It might help to notice that the letters only go from A through F and the numbers from 0 through 9.

  3. I disagree with you for the most part. But I will admit it is pleasantly surprising to see that others can disagree with you without incurring the adolescent wrath from you that most other bloggers would dish out. Intelligent debate and discussion is always a good thing.

  4. Well, I strive for open dialogue. I see no reason why people cannot disagree and yet still have very agreeable, friendly relationships and interactions. I find it very frustrating that so little productive discussion ever happens simply because people are so hateful in their dialogue against anyone who disagrees. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me at all when people disagree with me because I recognize that no one is going to hold the same view on everything. But that is why we discuss, to share what we know and believe and why and hopefully we can all get a little closer to the truth of things.

    Glad you stopped by and hope you will continue to do so. I enjoy hearing new viewpoints and having my own picked apart.

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