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Laws versus Morality

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Nico, Aug 12, 2017 at 4:36 PM.

  1. Nico

    Nico Active Member IQ: 140+

    Our society is guided by laws and basically you can do whatever you want, as long as it is not forbidden by any law in the country you are living in. Recently I thought about this a little bit and discovered that this system is quite strange. Isn't it really weird, that the laws are different in different countries even if the culture is almost the same? This already indicates that laws are kind of random. I also noticed that laws and morality are contradictory in a lot of cases.

    I have two examples:

    1. Cheating on someone in a relationship
    Laws: It is okay.
    Morality: It is not okay. Someone else gets hurt.

    2. Smoking cannabis (This depends on where you live)
    Laws: You are not allowed to consume cannabis
    Morality: Smoking cannabis does not make you a bad person therefore it is okay.

    I know that there are some flaws in these examples, but there are just examples to show you what I am talking about.

    Shouldn't laws be rules which represent our morality systems? What do you think about it?
    Mohsin, atmh4, Moloch and 1 other person like this.

  2. Cornucopia

    Cornucopia Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    The legislative system has absolutely nothing to do with morality. I believe that was the entire point of separating government from the influence of the church/religion which also arguably have very little to do with morality.
  3. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    Problem is - whose morality system? In a place like the United States, there is a diversity of morality systems, the holders of each of which wanting with all their hearts to impose the morality system upon everybody else. Doing so would lead to violence on a scale not seen since the Civil War.
    The laws do capture what is common in the morality systems. For instance, it is illegal to murder, rape, steal, etc. A vestige of law dictated by morality is the so-called "blue laws," whereby, in many states, the sale of alcohol is prohibited during certain hours, especially on Sundays, for religious reasons. I myself think that such laws are unconstitutional but getting them repealed is next to impossible, and the SCOTUS has, thus far, not struck them down.
    At any rate, there is a constant interplay between law and morality, and morality does often affect the law, as in the case of those states that have repealed laws against marijuana.
  4. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Agreed, both laws and morality are about how one aught to act. They both provide prescriptions about how one aught to behave.

    Morals are objective, meaning that one can be wrong about what they think is 'morally right'. Thus, if a law violates an objective moral standard, then it follows that the law is objectively wrong. Therefore, the morally right thing to do is to change that law.
  5. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    Morals are objective? Since when? According to some moral codes, it is the duty of a family to kill a daughter who has lost her virginity out of wedlock. According to our moral code, such an "honor killing" is an abomination. Which of the two positions is objective?
    Moloch likes this.
  6. Moloch

    Moloch Well-Known Member IQ: Over 150

    Ethics and morals are a strictly human business and vary from society to society. So does the law. This is why one should always take notice of a land and its custom, unless one is willing to be caught with one's pants down in awkward situations.... What is considered lawfull in one land is considered unlawfull in the next.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017 at 12:25 PM
    AguirresPriest likes this.
  7. Creedinger

    Creedinger Well-Known Member IQ: 120+

    Or even what is considered social is different from culture to culture.
    However, the law of a nation should respresent the ethics and moral within this country.

    I think the reason for separating government form church was a fight over power.

    According to religious fundamentalists the latter is more objective since it is a commandment of god, thus not created by secular moral philosophy but by god himself.
  8. Cornucopia

    Cornucopia Well-Known Member IQ: 140+

    Certainly. And morality is all about power. Contrary to ethics.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017 at 1:39 PM
  9. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    I'm sure they do say that. Let them prove it. All they have to do is prove that God exists. Lots of luck w/that.
  10. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    I'm a fallibilist, so no. There is no such thing as an absolute moral foundation. Your morals are always open to refutation, no matter how certain you are that they are absolute.

    I think you were confusing "absolute morality" with "objective morality". I don't believe morals are absolute -- that they are immune to refutation. But I do believe they can be objectively true. In other words, that the truth of one's morals does not depend on 'opinions'. One can be wrong about what is moral. Doctrines that try to enshrine their moral code in some sort of holy book can be 'objectively true', but they not immune to criticism.
    AguirresPriest likes this.
  11. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    I think that you fail to understand the meaning of the word, "objective." Objective means not reliant upon opinion but based upon facts that can be empirically established. There simply are no morals that can be so established, and that is all there is to it. After all, no matter how long a moral has been established and no matter how many trillions of people have held it, the moral remains essentially an OPINION.
  12. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    I disagree. What you have essentially said is that morals are subjective because they are based on opinion. But let me ask you, is it ever "morally right" to throw battery acid in another's face?
  13. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    Well, I could describe a scenario wherein a homicidal maniac is about to murder a person who has no means of defending himself other than battery acid: does not a person have the right to defend himself? Another moral question! ... Like it or not, morals are always subjective; they are never objective. You cannot come up w/a single solution to a moral dilemma for which a reasonable exception could not be found.
  14. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    True. However there is a flaw with your argument. You claim that " morals are subjective because there is no evidence baring on them." But what evidence is baring on that claim?
  15. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    I don't know what you read, but I know what I said, and I certainly did not say that ...
    earthpet and Moloch like this.
  16. extr3me

    extr3me Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 130+

    What about this actress, who I would not say the name, who is just fine with her mom killing her dad because he was an alcoholic, it was self defense... I was like "ehhh... what?". So it's okay to let your parent be killed in a frenzy, totally fine, why would you do something to help him? Fight with him the alcoholism or whatever the alcohol was suppressing within him.
    So, the law is fine with this feminism nonsense. What about morality? I would say that's pretty F upped, I wouldn't EVER let anyone of my family fall to something like that, I've tried to death to work with my dad and he's a lot better, he wasn't an alcoholic but we had a lot of problems.

    So, I believe our society is led not only by laws or morals, but by stupid trends, "is fine to kill him, because he is a man, he is alcoholic and violent".
  17. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    "Objective means not reliant upon opinion but based upon facts that can be empirically established."

    This is what you said. So the first question to ask is: what facts are this claim 'based upon'? If it is not based on facts, then according to itself, it is not objective. The next question to ask is: can subjective opinions ever be true? You might say "some opinions, certainly!". But surely a thing is true despite ones opinions? Surely truth is objective? And if truth is objective, then your definition of objectivity rules itself out!

    This is important because then you cannot claim that morality is subjective for that sort of reason. You need to find another reason. I don't believe there are any reasons to believe morality is subjective. But perhaps you can prove me wrong!
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017 at 11:50 AM
  18. marom

    marom Well-Known Member Claimed IQ: 140+

    It's a definition. Facts? Look up the definition of "objective." Those are the qualities that the English language chose to assign to the word "objective" - hence, the definition is axiomatic; it requires no proof. As any competent linguist will tell you, at the end of the day, all definitions are essentially "agreed upon" - speakers of a language agree that word x has y meaning.
    You might want to consider making two efforts - 1) study the scientific method; 2) study logic. Both are tools for finding and establishing the objective.
    By the by, in this case, "objective" is an adjective, not a noun ...
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017 at 3:36 PM
  19. atmh4

    atmh4 New Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    First, definitions can be logically inconsistent. I showed that this must be the case with your definition of "objective".

    Second, although it's true that definitions requires no proof, this is a bit of a red herring. Definitions require no proof, but they can be criticized when used in an argument. Remember, you said a thing is objective if it is based upon facts. This is more than just a definition, it is also a claim about other claims -- a meta claim. And as such, it is open to criticism.

    So the question remains: can you resolve the paradox?
  20. earthpet

    earthpet Member Claimed IQ: 150+

    Although "truth" is objective, definitions need to be agreed upon first and THEN they are objective.

    The original question is one that bothers me (I've thought about this dilemma quite a bit). Some laws seem to be in direct contradiction to ethics. This puts some people in conflicting situations. Laws can be written by a pin-headed monkey turd but must be followed by all. I think when breaking a particular law is more ethical than following that law then it is time to do something about it (i.e. change the law or leave the country).

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