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username3525234
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#1
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Been practising LNAT essays and would appreciate if anyone could take some time and read through this essay and let me know what you think.

Thanks

'Laws should only be enacted to prevent harm to others'. Do you agree? Why or why not?'

Laws have always been fundamental to human civilisation. They maintain order, act as a deterrent and are used in the redressing of grievances. This essay will argue that laws should not only be enacted to prevent harm to others, but to prevent harm to oneself, the environment and other co-habitants of the planet.

The role of the government needs to be assessed before a conclusion can be made regarding when laws should precisely be enacted. The government's role is to act in the best interests of the people that it represents. This encompasses many different issues, such as protecting the environment of the people it represents, as that too is in the best interest of the people collectively. Therefore, the government should aim to enact laws which not only prevent harm to others, but also to their wider surroundings and individuals themselves.

Another part of the statement which needs to be looked at is 'harm'. Harm needs to be defined. Harm to one group of people would not necessarily be the same harm of another. For the purposes of this essay, harm will be defined as the causing of distress or damage, whether that be through physical or mental means. With this definition of harm, it should also be noted that one can cause themselves harm; through self-harm for example.

One purpose of law enactment therefore, should be to prevent harm to oneself as well as to others. This is because in times of anguish and emotional instability, a human’s actions are not always in their best interest. Therefore, laws should aim to safeguard people during this period and so should be enacted to do so, as the government should be the ones acting in the individual’s best interests, as aforementioned. An example of this law can be seen in today's society, with attempted suicide being illegal. Although it might be argued that someone who has take their own life cannot not necessarily be punished, it should be noted that the law against attempted suicide is enacted in order to allow the government to be able to supervise the patient, assess them and help them. Hence, laws should not only be enacted to prevent harm to others, but also to prevent harm to oneself.

Laws should also be enacted to prevent harm to one’s wider surroundings. This is as harm might not be done to others directly, but would be done to the wider community indirectly. The extent of harm caused by the offender, to other individuals, could be questioned and so to avoid this confusion; actions which damage the wider surroundings should also be prevented through laws. This can be seen in the form of pollution for example, where the action of releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere does not cause harm to others immediately but rather causes long term harm to the entire planet, in the form of global warming. The significance of the action of the offender in causing this harm would be difficult to establish, and hence if laws were only enacted to prevent harm to others it would be impossible to determine a suitable sanction. By enacting laws to prevent harm to one's wider surroundings as well, it prevents this situation from arising.

To conclude, I disagree with the statement made of 'Laws should only be enacted to prevent harm to others'. Instead, a more suitable statement would be 'Laws should not only be enacted to prevent harm to others, but also to themselves as well as their wider surroundings'. This is as the government should enact laws which are in the best interests of the people it represents collectively, and hence should aim to enact laws which can encompass the whole of the society it stands for.
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Estreth
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It's a very good essay - clearly structured, and showing a good sense of what the problems are.

It's good that you try to define harm, since that is indeed one of the central difficulties in this debate. A popular view is that harm to a person is a setback to their interests - this would fit nicely with the way you set up the role of the government (also a contentious area that you do well to be clear about) and the possibility of people being able to harm themselves.

Beware using what you think is knowledge of the law!! Attempted suicide has not been illegal in the UK since 1961. There are lots of examples you could use that continue to be controversial to some extent, e.g. compulsory seatbelts in cars; ban on smoking (for the smoker's benefit or for others'?), etc. Should people be able to make damaging decisions about their own health as long as it doesn't impact on others?

Your argument that laws enacted in order to prevent harm to the environment seems to me to involve a bit of a confusion. I think you're saying (quite reasonably) that if a conviction for an offence of environmental damage depended on establishing that his or her action could cause harm to others, convictions would be too difficult and we would not be able to have any such offences. That may be true, but the question is not asking whether laws should be drafted such as to require a prosecutor to establish harm to others in each case, but rather whether there are any acceptable justifications for legislation other than the prevention of harm to others. You could say that the criminalization of certain forms of environmentally damaging behaviour (e.g. dumping waste in rivers) is justifiable if that criminalization in general prevents harm to individuals other than the polluter. All a prosecutor would have to show would be (e.g.) that the offender intentionally dumped waste in a river, not that the act would harm anyone in the given case.
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username3525234
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#3
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(Original post by Estreth)
It's a very good essay - clearly structured, and showing a good sense of what the problems are.

It's good that you try to define harm, since that is indeed one of the central difficulties in this debate. A popular view is that harm to a person is a setback to their interests - this would fit nicely with the way you set up the role of the government (also a contentious area that you do well to be clear about) and the possibility of people being able to harm themselves.

Beware using what you think is knowledge of the law!! Attempted suicide has not been illegal in the UK since 1961. There are lots of examples you could use that continue to be controversial to some extent, e.g. compulsory seatbelts in cars; ban on smoking (for the smoker's benefit or for others'?), etc. Should people be able to make damaging decisions about their own health as long as it doesn't impact on others?

Your argument that laws enacted in order to prevent harm to the environment seems to me to involve a bit of a confusion. I think you're saying (quite reasonably) that if a conviction for an offence of environmental damage depended on establishing that his or her action could cause harm to others, convictions would be too difficult and we would not be able to have any such offences. That may be true, but the question is not asking whether laws should be drafted such as to require a prosecutor to establish harm to others in each case, but rather whether there are any acceptable justifications for legislation other than the prevention of harm to others. You could say that the criminalization of certain forms of environmentally damaging behaviour (e.g. dumping waste in rivers) is justifiable if that criminalization in general prevents harm to individuals other than the polluter. All a prosecutor would have to show would be (e.g.) that the offender intentionally dumped waste in a river, not that the act would harm anyone in the given case.
Thank you so much for the feedback, it really helps.
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Notoriety
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#4
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(Original post by Estreth)
Beware using what you think is knowledge of the law!! Attempted suicide has not been illegal in the UK since 1961. There are lots of examples you could use that continue to be controversial to some extent, e.g. compulsory seatbelts in cars; ban on smoking (for the smoker's benefit or for others'?), etc. Should people be able to make damaging decisions about their own health as long as it doesn't impact on others?
A very, very minor aside, the Suicide Act 1961 only applies to England and Wales, not the UK. It is important to remember the other countries' criminal law is particularly separate from English common law, to the extent that the Supreme Court does not even have jurisdiction over Scots criminal law (though it does for Scots civil matters). It is less different in NI, however (e.g. SC does have jurisdiction over its criminal matters). Though to your point, NI did keep attempted suicide illegal after 1961 (till 1966).
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Estreth
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(Original post by Notorious_B.I.G.)
A very, very minor aside, the Suicide Act 1961 only applies to England and Wales, not the UK. It is important to remember the other countries' criminal law is particularly separate from English common law, to the extent that the Supreme Court does not even have jurisdiction over Scots criminal law (though it does for Scots civil matters). It is less different in NI, however (e.g. SC does have jurisdiction over its criminal matters). Though to your point, NI did keep attempted suicide illegal after 1961 (till 1966).
Indeed - duly chastened!
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