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Just because it's illegal it does not mean it's not right. watch

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    This looks a little long but it's something I think people should consider thinking about:

    I was reading an article in the newspaper the other day, I won't specify what it was concerning because it will spark another moral debate. I didn't reach a conclusion as to whether I agreed with the judge's final verdict (the emotional issues in the case were very complex) but one thing really struck me. The judge said:

    "You knew you were breaking society’s conventions, you knew you were breaking the law, and you knew the consequences.”


    This seems to be the crux of the argument for finding the defendant guilty, but I disagree with it.

    My first point:

    Now, admitedly in the vast majority of cases where people break the law and societies' conventions they have done something morally wrong and punishable. But what about in cases where the motives of the person were not intent on doing harm but which still break the law and societies' conventions?
    It reminds me a lot of Mill's Utilitarianism (disregard of motives, only consquences matter). I can see how this sort of ethical principle works in society but we seem to have a mix of Deontological and Utilitarianism - we create laws for the greater good but when those laws are broken we don't want to know about motives for actions only the consequences that they bring about.

    I'm not suggesting that I have a theory to change the way our legal system works because frankly I have no idea what change we could bring about whilst still keeping it fair and just nor how to implement any large changes to the law but I do think there is a gaping hole in our legal system when judges do not consider the motives of the accused (but how can we know their true motives?...can of worms!).

    Also my second and final point:

    Laws and social conventions change over time. They are not invariable/constant so how can they dictate how to truly judge the morality of human actions? Things which people do in today's society could have been punishable offences in the middle ages. How can we be certain that punishable offences in the 21st century will be just as punishable in the 30th? We don't really have an objective view of morality.


    So, I think what this particular Judge said is absolutely pointless and doesn't act as a justifiable explanation for finding someone guilty. I don't understand how you can possibly find someone guilty using that logic.


    Any thought/opinions? I think it's a really interesting discussion topic, I'd like to hear some other opinions but I haven't seen any mention of it on TSR....
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    In this case, clearly, it was one of those clear-cut instances where the law is following both society's common morality and the more concrete needs for order.

    However, in other cases, I agree with you entirely. Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime, and one that isn't (or shouldn't) have a moral motive behind it. As you said, there are many more examples of this.

    This is where we have to consider what the purpose of the law is. To lay down morality? To preserve order? It gets a lot more complicated and the whole thing is a massive grey area (depending on what you believe), but nevertheless, I think morality can never be fully applied in the law.
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    (Original post by hunty91)
    In this case, clearly, it was one of those clear-cut instances where the law is following both society's common morality and the more concrete needs for order.

    However, in other cases, I agree with you entirely. Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime, and one that isn't (or shouldn't) have a moral motive behind it. As you said, there are many more examples of this.

    This is where we have to consider what the purpose of the law is. To lay down morality? To preserve order? It gets a lot more complicated and the whole thing is a massive grey area (depending on what you believe), but nevertheless, I think morality can never be fully applied in the law.
    But is it? This could be a whole new debate on its own - There are victims of drugs. Communities suffer, crime can increase as a result if someone moves from 'soft' drugs onto more addictive, costlier substances. Then remove the focus from the buying end - the drugs need to be trafficked into the country. Sure, some traffickers are willing to do it, whilst others are forced, by threats of physical and emotional abuse. Victemless, eh?
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    (Original post by hunty91)
    In this case, clearly, it was one of those clear-cut instances where the law is following both society's common morality and the more concrete needs for order.

    However, in other cases, I agree with you entirely. Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime, and one that isn't (or shouldn't) have a moral motive behind it. As you said, there are many more examples of this.

    This is where we have to consider what the purpose of the law is. To lay down morality? To preserve order? It gets a lot more complicated and the whole thing is a massive grey area (depending on what you believe), but nevertheless, I think morality can never be fully applied in the law.
    What if you were killed for it or sold it to users, who would go and wreck their lives? That is a whole debate on it's own...
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    If people realised this I think the world would be a much better place...
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    (Original post by CrazyChris)
    the drugs need to be trafficked into the country. Sure, some traffickers are willing to do it, whilst others are forced, by threats of physical and emotional abuse. Victemless, eh?
    Might I remind you that the law creating more victims is not a compelling argument for the law.
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    (Original post by birdsong1)
    Might I remind you that the law creating more victims is not a compelling argument for the law.
    This is irrelevant.
    The point I was arguing against was the statement that 'Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime'
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    (Original post by CrazyChris)
    This is irrelevant.
    The point I was arguing against was the statement that 'Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime'
    No it's not. The reason why some people are forced to deal drugs is because drug dealing is illegal. Remove the law and it really is a victimless crime. At least no more so than selling hamburgers.
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    (Original post by CrazyChris)
    This is irrelevant.
    The point I was arguing against was the statement that 'Possession of an illegal substance, particularly in the case of soft recreational drugs, is a victimless crime'
    And then you note that the law creates victims. Kind of kills off the original thesis, doesn't it.

    Also kind of a tautology, if the non-victimless thesis is used to support the law.
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    If you go onto the thread i have started 'ideology that the only law we should obey is the common law' there is a video about this kind off thing what shows how laws are written and the language they are written in not 'not english' and how they are actually interpreted.

    People are being done for stuff that isn't really a crime.

    How a look at the video you will understand what i mean
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    It's true, the law and morality are not the same, and there is no such thing as an ultimate morality.

    I respect our laws as long as the legislative has fair authority, and I of course obey all but the most petty as I do not wish to suffer the penalty laid down by the law. However it seems to be less of the former now, and more of the latter. There are many petty, petty laws which I think should be challenged, en masse. Why do we follow acts of parliament, laws which are declared on paper? Because the words of law are commonly recognised, by most people and importantly the instruments of authority, as having more weight than the paper they are written on. Yet authority is not God-given to parliament or the ruling party, I detest such petty legalism as that which has struck Britain today.
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    Laws should be seen more as general guidelines and every case looked into invidivually.

    I mean, that people can get harsher punishments for stealing millions from a massive company than they seem to for breaking into an old person's home and causing much greater harm is just absurd.
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    (Original post by somethingbeautiful)
    Just because it's illegal it does not mean it's not right.
    Obviously, laws are there for a reason and that is to best protect everyone's safety, rights and interests. Unfortunatley we live in a very complicated world and would sometimes benefit from more personally examined case studies of many things. In a world where this is not always possible, I can see why the law is stuck to simply because it is the law, otherwise it may be seen as compromisible, people begin to draw the line further and further away from where it started and we are left with something not resembling the original idea.

    Ultimately though, I do agree with the statement that just because it is illegal it does not mean it's not right. I think it is just as important to remember the flipside of this, that is:
    just because it's legal, doesn't mean it IS right.
 
 
 
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