Deep Thought: Can a society exist without laws? Watch

Deep-Thought
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After the first great task for which I, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in the universe, of time and space, was called into existence for, I was left with little to occupy my circuits. And thus, Deep Thought Thursdays was born; a chance to discover what you primitive beings think of the great questions in life.

This week, I want you to tell me whether you believe a society can exist without laws? And why do you think that?

Some general advice, don't take as long as seven and a half million years to answer, and don't say 42, the philosophers get angry if you do that... the mice weren't happy either, come to think of it.
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PilgrimOfTruth
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This is really a question of terminology.

By laws we really mean some kind of rule set.

And since a "society" is a group of people living to some kind or ordered rule set, then the quick answer is simply, No, society can not exist without laws/rules.
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username2281303
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As person above me says ^^ society means a group of people living in ordered communities, and order is impossible without laws.
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blueflame8
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Yes of course it could. It would just be nasty, brutish and short.
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ecolier
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(Original post by Deep-Thought)
After the first great task for which I, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in the universe, of time and space, was called into existence for, I was left with little to occupy my circuits. And thus, Deep Thought Thursdays was born; a chance to discover what you primitive beings think of the great questions in life.

This week, I want you to tell me whether you believe a society can exist without laws? And why do you think that?

Some general advice, don't take as long as seven and a half million years to answer, and don't say 42, the philosophers get angry if you do that... the mice weren't happy either, come to think of it.
Yes it can, humanity has been doing without laws until last few thousand years (in many regions). However advanced civilised societies cannot exist without laws.

Edited to add: if, when you say law, you mean rules than obviously rules have to exist. I take it as though you mean official, written down and defined law.
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aryan_0811
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societies were first created due to the agrarian revolution, as surplus food started to be made, not everyone had to essentially grow food for survival. now this lead to an increasingly complex set of relationships between people, and laws were created to maintain those relationships, so essentially laws are what define a society. however, while laws can never be completely abolished from a society, the ideology or the purpose of those laws can be changed, for example for centuries people followed laws simply set out by a religious institution such as the church, etc. however now we follow " utilitarianism", the idea that all beings want to avoid pain and seek pleasure, thus laws in theory are made so that they maximize the benefit to the society.
It is interesting to think, if tomorrow all laws are abolished, life will go on the same, all of us are now accustomed to certain life styles and we believe that these lifestyles and our roles are important to maintain society, however someone somewhere will default which will eventually trigger responses from others and bring down the entire society
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Axiomasher
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Chimp 'societies' are sustained by 'laws' insofar as there are generally recognised expectations of behaviour and there are consequences of transgression.
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yankeedog1953
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(Original post by Deep-Thought)
After the first great task for which I, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in the universe, of time and space, was called into existence for, I was left with little to occupy my circuits. And thus, Deep Thought Thursdays was born; a chance to discover what you primitive beings think of the great questions in life.

This week, I want you to tell me whether you believe a society can exist without laws? And why do you think that?

Some general advice, don't take as long as seven and a half million years to answer, and don't say 42, the philosophers get angry if you do that... the mice weren't happy either, come to think of it.
Yes. For as long as it would take for it to self-destruct.
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username3839252
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(Original post by Deep-Thought)
After the first great task for which I, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer in the universe, of time and space, was called into existence for, I was left with little to occupy my circuits. And thus, Deep Thought Thursdays was born; a chance to discover what you primitive beings think of the great questions in life.

This week, I want you to tell me whether you believe a society can exist without laws? And why do you think that?

Some general advice, don't take as long as seven and a half million years to answer, and don't say 42, the philosophers get angry if you do that... the mice weren't happy either, come to think of it.
Well, I don't mean to blame it on communism, but I do. The communists needed everyone to agree with them for their thing to work. And you definitely can't do that without laws. So no, no society can exist without laws. Otherwise you have no rules to the game, so to speak.
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DoNotDivideBy0
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As with so many debates, it is necessary to start by defining terms and agreeing upon those definitions. Otherwise we end up arguing from different premises.

What do we mean by "society"?

What do we mean by "laws"?

I'll leave "society" for others to worry about, and confine myself to laws. What do we mean by "laws"? Enacted, written rules? Agreed norms of behaviour? Mere social conventions? Is "the law of the jungle" a law? Is "eat what you kill" a law?

If you choose your definitions carefully enough, you can either create a situation in which the answer to the question HAS to be "of course they can" or, alternatively, one where it equally has to be "of course they cannot".
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Bongo Bongo
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Even hunter gatherers had 'laws', they had pagan religion, which led to egalitarianism. Even if they didn't have an institution enforcing laws they still had them. All social groups have 'laws' even if we're talking about non-human primates.
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AngeloR
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(Original post by DoNotDivideBy0)
As with so many debates, it is necessary to start by defining terms and agreeing upon those definitions. Otherwise we end up arguing from different premises.

What do we mean by "society"?

What do we mean by "laws"?

I'll leave "society" for others to worry about, and confine myself to laws. What do we mean by "laws"? Enacted, written rules? Agreed norms of behaviour? Mere social conventions? Is "the law of the jungle" a law? Is "eat what you kill" a law?

If you choose your definitions carefully enough, you can either create a situation in which the answer to the question HAS to be "of course they can" or, alternatively, one where it equally has to be "of course they cannot".
The questions you raise highlight issues that precipitated the recent rise of analytic philosophy (by recent I mean the past 50 years). Generally speaking, continental philosophy is wide-ranging and ambitious. Analytical philosophy prizes rigor, consistency, and is narrow in scope, for the reasons you outline. For example, you have found that defining law is extremely hard. What is law? Countless papers in the field of analytic jurisprudence have been written on the topic. Analytic jurisprudence being, of course, in the analytic tradition of tightly-constrained questions.

I take this opportunity simply to highlight the ever-increasing divide between what philosophers do and what people think philosophers do.

As to the substantive point, I think it is pretty clear that social conventions, in and of itself, are not law. Their source fails to provide the legitimacy necessary for something to be law. But primitive law does exist. I think the question of "what is society" must be defined first. Otherwise, it would beg the question. For I think a non-trivial argument can be made that society is an ordered group of people, where that "ordering" must be through law. At least, most definitions of society include the requirement that the group be (1) ordered and (2) share a common political authority. If the second premise is true, then I think it isn't too far of a jump to argue that society requires some sort of primitive law, whereas law is the instrument from which a common political authority enables an ordered community.
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Lifeisded
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(Original post by ZiggyStardust_)
As person above me says ^^ society meanings a group of people living in ordered communities, and order is impossible without laws.
And laws won’t always have to be governmental laws you could have community laws that people in that local area decide maybe and that would still be. A society of ppl
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r.a99
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it can only be called a society if there are some ground rules which people follow
otherwise it would be a very distopian one
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Nihilisticb*tch
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I don't think there has ever been a society without some form of laws. Even in early humanity, it's safe to presume that if someone wronged someone else, they would get beaten or killed by that person so in a sense, even though they weren't written down, there was some form of unspoken law. In terms of modern day, if all laws and police were removed then the world would go to ****. People would Rob and murder as they pleased. We're too densely populated now for a lawless society to be safe In small early communities there were probably only a few people so it would be easy to keep track and lynch people. now there are just too many people to lynch. It just wouldn't work
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username3957186
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Without laws, it's law of the jungle. I.e. Might is right.
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