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Do You Have a Morale Obligation to Obey the Law?

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    The law is, naturally, maintained by the state and the people that chose to obey the law. Without the existence of a state you would lack almost every luxury that you currently have, it is highly unlikely that without it you would be capable of reading this. Therefore, if you owe so much to the state then does that give them the morale right to enforce the law that they see fit to enforce? This includes paying your taxes, and them using them as they see fit. Basically, if they have provived, and will provide, for you for the rest of your life, do you not think that it should be the honour of the people to obey the law?

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    Secondly, I wish to state my view on an age old question. Why were laws originally created, and for what purpose do we maintain them? This does tie in largely with the question of human nature, a topic I find very interesting. I believe that law is a creation of the people, to protect the people. If the, widely believed, negative nature of humans was to be an accurate representation of our nature then surely it would be much more beneficial for the lawmakers, and law abiders, to abolish law, they would be provided with the capability to rise to a high a position as is possible, without the constraints of the law, if human greed was the most important human urge.

    And another point that is often argued is that laws exist out of humans instinct for survival. I also reject this claim due to a simple observation. Humans live in the most dangerous enviroments that they can possibly create, cities. Surely it would be much safer to live with a commune, away from people that you can't trust and people that hide their true motives from you. Speaking realistically, there is nothing the law can do to stop a psychopath from going on a rampage. At the end of the day they are still capable of it, with or without laws. The best method of surival would be to detatch yourself from society, and laws.
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    (Original post by C_G)
    The law is, naturally, maintained by the state.
    I am not sure what you mean by this, but law pre-dates what we would consider states (kings, parliaments, etc.) and exists outside of the state in areas such as private arbitration.

    (Original post by C_G)
    Without the existence of a state you would lack almost every luxury that you currently have.
    As an anarchist, I reject your assertion.

    (Original post by C_G)
    Therefore, if you owe so much to the state then does that give them the morale right to enforce the law that they see fit to enforce? This includes paying your taxes, and them using them as they see fit. Basically, if they have provived, and will provide, for you for the rest of your life, do you not think that it should be the honour of the people to obey the law?
    No, even if I accept your premise that the state does indeed do all of these wonderful things you still are not morally obligated to obey the rules laid down by the state. What you effectively seem to be saying is that "continued servitude to the state is justifiable on the grounds that it has achieved desirable consequences up until now" but this still can't justify state formation in the first place, as there are no past consequences on which to justify your rulership. Furthermore, the fact that your argument can be used to justify the holocaust should really make you pause and reconsider.
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    The social contract.

    By co-operation, the many benefit.
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    (Original post by hema=hot and gold)
    The social contract.

    By co-operation, the many benefit.
    But the state isn't a form of co-operation.
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    The state gets paid for handling those things. Obeying laws shouldn't be a part of "repaying" the state, it should be a simple matter of keeping the peace.

    I realise that a vast amount of state laws are stupid and useless. This is of course as a result of individual and religious ideas, for example the disgust for sex (punishment for having sex outside of marriage). In those cases I beliee the state would be wrong in punishing someone for their "crimes".

    The only things the state should concern itself with is welfare and policing (of criminals only). By criminals I mean anyone who does something to other people against their wills i.e. a murderer a thief or a rapist. By welfare I mean taking care of people's basic human needs (through taxes) in case they aren't able to provide for themselves for any reason. Anything more than that seems to me like soft dictatorships.
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    From the natural law perspective, no. Just ask yourself these questions and all will be obvious.

    Do all of us share a unanimous notion of justice and morality? If not, why should I be expected to subjugate my individual morality to a universal morality when I can only know my own conscience and instincts (natural sense) in the absense of 'objectively provable moral norms'? Am I automatically obligated to follow a supposedly 'subjectively and morally correct' law when I am born, without knowing why I have to do so or choosing whether or not to conform (as in the Social Contract Theory)?

    What is the distinction between our obligation to obey the law which the sovereign gives us and the natural law which nature gives us?. According to Kant, we are only bound to obey the laws which we give ourselves (Groundwork: Autonomy). Hume, in a similar vein, draws a cherished distinction between obligation to legal laws and natural laws and he rejects the notion that we should be obligated to follow someone elses' perception of what the law is. So, is legal obligation an inherent obligation? No.

    Also, should law be obeyed simply because some benefits may be accrued from doing so, or because legal systems carry with them a measure of moral approval? Think about this!

    But from the positivist view, yes.
    The nexus between legal authority and civil disobedience can be seen as an insurance to the people. However unfair the social contract is when signed, people have always had the right to overthrow their governments (i.e. legal authority and civil obedience are mutual promises (obey for order)). If we are to trace the origin of such contract, I'd suggest that we have to obey the law for the necessary maintanence of order and for the collective enterprise of the society, for humans are in their natural state brutish and nasty (as Hobbes described).

    Nowadays, law is still thought of as being in the interest of society. Even if it seems that a law doesn’t accord with the consensus on individual morality, the appeal to morality still subsists. The reason why everyone surrenders his problems to the law is that the law is socially right and prevents anarchy, so why should the individual be the exception?

    Other views:
    Kelson: the law should be obeyed because it is validated by an unwritten rule or grundnorm

    Harris: the obligation is an endorsement of the obligation to obey what are subjectively felt to be morally correct laws.

    Finnis: legal obligation is based upon natural principles of what is good. Legal systems carry general moral obligation if they carry with them moral approval, without which there is no obligation to obey it.

    A better reason: few aspects of modern life are not dependent upon the legal system. People have little alternative but to play along with the rules of the game.

    If we're talking about immoral laws, one need not obey them but must bear the legal consequences that may arise.
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    Yes and no.

    A poster has rightly pointed out the Social Contract. But remember that the very same person advocated a state of natural law earlier in his life. Whilst it is true, and various things protect me - not the least laws against murder, etc - I don't feel a moral obligation to obey the law at all. The law was not made by me or with my consent, and insofar as there is no one moral right or wrong I don't view that as legitimate. Some may see absolute anarchy as morally correct.

    I would much prefer for people to club together and have their own individual states. You could argue that's how states originally started, but I'm not keen on living in this current state system where I have no say and almost all of the laws passed are directly to keep me in check - especially the whole new load of legislation to keep order during the Olympics. Proto-fascism.
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    (Original post by C_G)
    The law is, naturally, maintained by the state and the people that chose to obey the law. Without the existence of a state you would lack almost every luxury that you currently have, it is highly unlikely that without it you would be capable of reading this. Therefore, if you owe so much to the state then does that give them the morale right to enforce the law that they see fit to enforce? This includes paying your taxes, and them using them as they see fit. Basically, if they have provived, and will provide, for you for the rest of your life, do you not think that it should be the honour of the people to obey the law?
    Unfortunately I disagree that the State has given us what we have today.
    The State has helped keep society together, no doubt, but it's my opinion that without such a centralized State (a concept we've adopted since the cold war), there still would've been technological advances, cultural developments and social grouping (mainly thanks to the concept of Nation - Note that "Nation" and "State" are in no way the same thing).
    Law is too much of a generalization for me to agree with it. No two cases (or "crimes", if you like) are the same.
    And the concept we have of punishing and scaring people into behaving is the least 'natural' solution to conflict I can imagine.

    By enforcing a general law, you are assuming that everyone is the same, and has the same way of viewing life.
    This is far from reality.


    Secondly, I wish to state my view on an age old question. Why were laws originally created, and for what purpose do we maintain them? This does tie in largely with the question of human nature, a topic I find very interesting. I believe that law is a creation of the people, to protect the people. If the, widely believed, negative nature of humans was to be an accurate representation of our nature then surely it would be much more beneficial for the lawmakers, and law abiders, to abolish law, they would be provided with the capability to rise to a high a position as is possible, without the constraints of the law, if human greed was the most important human urge.
    Law, in the beginning, was a product of prehistoric superstition.
    In the last few hundred years the reason for Law has turned into being the civilian resource to enable the elite minority to control the working majority.

    In the last few decades, since the string of working class revolutions, we've maintained the concept of law without AS MUCH as a need for it as we think, in my personal opinion.
    Yet our culture has turned into one of CONTROL since the cold war, where the state is the center of everything, and where every little unfortunate (an mostly inevitable) event or crime is followed by a cry for an unnatural redesign of our culture.

    Yes; we do need to make sure certain people don't murder or steal, but on the other hand we don't need to write out a law for every little aspect of life: drugs, commecial activities, education, public behaviors, etc etc.

    And another point that is often argued is that laws exist out of humans instinct for survival. I also reject this claim due to a simple observation. Humans live in the most dangerous enviroments that they can possibly create, cities. Surely it would be much safer to live with a commune, away from people that you can't trust and people that hide their true motives from you. Speaking realistically, there is nothing the law can do to stop a psychopath from going on a rampage. At the end of the day they are still capable of it, with or without laws. The best method of surival would be to detatch yourself from society, and laws.
    It is much more "dangerous" to live in the middle of a desert than to live in a city; don't you agree?
    It is "natural" for us to live in communities.
    That said, I agree with you: law doesn't prevent crime. It just gives us the perception of prevention.


    My main point is that I believe society should be left to roam more naturally than it has been in the past 6-7 decades.
    I have faith in our culture. Though we have to accept that crime will happen from time to time, and can't be prevented.

    I believe that having this much control will never let our culture fall into a comfortable balance where crime isn't beneficial in any way.

    Unfortunately, the State isn't to blame: it's the average paranoid citizen who brings this control on him/her-self.
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    Yes in that you need to maintain a sensible, peaceful world - but no in that there is too much subjectivity to morality to give everyone a 'moral obligation' to obeying a law which you may not agree with.
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    Yes the state exists as nothing but the objective expression of self-governed normative mindedness, and as a result presents the opportunity for individuals to purge their inclinations of their natural form and embrace a more rational existence in the unity the free will. The state, and its laws, are nothing but the necessary condition of freedom: the final unity of the subjective and objective spirit.
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    (Original post by Aesop)
    Yes the state exists as nothing but the objective expression of self-governed normative mindedness, and as a result presents the opportunity for individuals to purge their inclinations of their natural form and embrace a more rational existence in the unity the free will. The state, and its laws, are nothing but the necessary condition of freedom: the final unity of the subjective and objective spirit.
    Objective and morality do not go together.

    The state is - in theory - what you say it is. But it works opposite. And I think it's unhelpful to throw in all types of state into those categories. An authoritarian, theocratic state in the mould of Saudi or Iran is unlikely to be the 'necessary condition of freedom' which you so envisage.
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    No.

    There's already some great posts explaining why, I share the majority of those reasons.

    I assume this statement is relevant globally? If so, put it into the perspective of the Chinese population. They are denied a lot of human rights and are hopeless to disobey due to the severe punishment dished out by state - I may not be entirely correct although I believe the principle stands and I'd love someone to disprove that example.
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    If you were a homsexual in Iran who wanted to have a homosexual relationship, would you have a moral obligation to obey the law????
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    A few people seem to not grasp my most basic principle. If the state the provides, then you have the morale obligation to obey the law.
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    (Original post by C_G)
    A few people seem to not grasp my most basic principle. If the state the provides, then you have the morale obligation to obey the law.
    But the state must create laws (which must be obeyed) before it provides any kind of service since it requires taxes.
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    (Original post by C_G)
    A few people seem to not grasp my most basic principle. If the state the provides, then you have the morale obligation to obey the law.
    You're, in no way, morally obliged to give a gift in return for one.
    Especially if the gift isn't welcome.

    Now, for me, and the UK government, this isn't exactly the case. I do trust the government, and I'll support it.
    But I'm afraid not all governments are the same.

    My only criticism is that the UK government tries too hard to control every detail of society: which is something I gravely disagree with.
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    (Original post by C_B_C)
    You're, in no way... which is something I gravely disagree with.
    You might not be morally obliged to return a gift, but you don't spit in the face of the person you gave it to you, metaphorically speaking. Which is why you should obey the law. I also believe that if people claim the gifts that the state gives are unwelcome then they would not be entirely happy should the state take them away, it is hypocritical in way that whilst an anarchist takes part in the society the the state has helped maintain he also claims to hold disdain for it and advocate revolution against it at thte same time. If they are so sincere, and truly do represent anarchy, then why don't they break with the system?
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    (Original post by C_G)
    I believe that if people claim the gifts that the state gives are unwelcome then they would not be entirely happy should the state take them away, it is hypocritical in way that whilst an anarchist takes part in the society the the state has helped maintain he also claims to hold disdain for it and advocate revolution against it at thte same time. If they are so sincere, and truly do represent anarchy, then why don't they break with the system?
    No, it is in no way hypocritical. I think the state makes society worse off, but that doesn't mean I don't want to live in society. I think it is very bad at providing healthcare, education, law and postal services, but that doesn't mean I don't need these things to survive.
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    (Original post by C_G)
    You might not be morally obliged to return a gift, but you don't spit in the face of the person you gave it to you, metaphorically speaking. Which is why you should obey the law. I also believe that if people claim the gifts that the state gives are unwelcome then they would not be entirely happy should the state take them away, it is hypocritical in way that whilst an anarchist takes part in the society the the state has helped maintain he also claims to hold disdain for it and advocate revolution against it at thte same time. If they are so sincere, and truly do represent anarchy, then why don't they break with the system?
    It can be argued that the government's setup of society is based around the protection of the small elite, and the controlling of the working class.
    If this is/were the case, would you consider this to be a gift to them?
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    (Original post by C_B_C)
    It can be argued that the government's setup of society is based around the protection of the small elite, and the controlling of the working class.
    If this is/were the case, would you consider this to be a gift to them?
    So it is a mutually beneficial gift, but then what gift isn't? If it wasn't for these gifts then society would cease to function, for both the working class and the upper classes. Whilst I in no form advocate the abuse of the working classes, I do believe that a hierarchical structure is necessary in society. Without the ruling class, the working class would be out of employment whereas without the working class there would be no employees and therefore no reason for the ruling class. Both classes rely on each other, and the maintenance of law, order and various other services are necessary for this relationship to work well.

    @PicardianSocialist

    You live a good life, yet you believe it is still inadequate? Care to explain these inadequacies, that are caused by the state?

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