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November 3, 2016 / Congau

Law and Morality

Law is not morality, but the law should be moral.

The law is there to organize society and promote order, and therefore it ultimately has the same aim as morality; a condition where mutual aid is encouraged and injury avoided.

But the law is social and morality is personal and contradictions will occur. The written laws cannot regulate personal lifestyle, for that would make legislation unnecessarily complicated, create too many criminals and lead to disorder and arbitrariness; that is the opposite of what was intended. If the law intervenes too much in morality, it will compromise morality.

All legislation must search for what is pragmatically possible exactly to promote morality. The modern liberal is wrong to think that the individual way of life is irrelevant to lawmaking. It is highly relevant because individual well-being is the ultimate measure of a successful society, and any conduct that is hurtful for the individual will also hurt society.

There is a complicated balancing act between unalterable goals and pragmatic necessity. Moral rigidity and fanaticism in legislation may lead to unintended immoral conduct elsewhere in the social labyrinth. (e.g. a ban on alcohol may lead to an increase in violent crime) However, the original moral intention may still be right.

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