John Salmond's definition of law is a body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice. Whereas Philip Harris states that morality is a set of beliefs, values and standards of behaviour. Law and morality have tended to overlap in situations where, as morality changes, the law changes as well, as in R v R 1991 Marital Rape case. Some laws are clearly based on moral values such as murder and theft. Howeverm law and morality sometimes diverge, as a result of often disagreement on contrevertial topics, such as euthanasia and the Marriage Act of 2013.
The UK as a pluralist society means that there is a vast amount of ethnic and religious diversity. Durkheim suggests that it is inevitable that in a pluralist society, it makes it extremely difficult to share a singular opinion as everyone has their own views on morality and whether laws should enforce it. Parliament sometimes use Private Members Bills to pass contrevertial laws, such as the Abortion Act 1967, which has led to campaigns from both Pro-choice and pro-life activists. Therefore, it is hard for legal intervention on moral issues in terms of creating the idea of a shared morality
Positivists such as Aquinas believe that laws come from a higher authority, and in this theory, law and morals come from God. In a way, this is true as we still use the Ten Commandments to follow rulings like 'thou shall not kill', showing that it is a plausible theory. However, the weakness of this is one of which we now live in a modern society of religious differences, so this view isnt widely used.
Fuller argues that law achieves social order as it sets down the guidelines of general rule in which people can orient their behaviour. He identified 8 things for a valid legal system, including understanding, consistency and published. There have been debates in the past in which Natural Law has opposed positivist theorist such as Hart. The Fuller/Hart debate consisted of Fuller arguing that, as the laws in Germany WW2 were so immoral at the time, they were invalid and so people should have followed them. Whereas Hart argued that regardless of whether these were immoral, laws are laws so they were valid and people should have followed them. One the one hand, judges followed the natural law theory and found people who followed nazi law liable.
Devlin took a paternalistic approach to natural law, stating that society has shared morals and even if people act privately which doesnt concern anyone else, it can still be immoral and beyond the tolerance of the reasonable man. Immoral behaviour, even in private, harms society
Positivist utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham are concerned with what the law is. The natural law theory is confusing legal and moral issues and is a 'nonsense on stilts'. Similarly JS Mill states that society should work towards the greatest happiness for the greatest number, meaning it is just even if it leads to social inequality. For example, Sarah's law on the disclosure of locations of pedophiles increased the happiness of the greater community. However, it arguably concerns the fact that there is no individual liberty for the convict.
Hart, another positivist, rejected the classical positivist view, and rather stated that law and morality should be separated. The minority should not have to conform to the majority. law should not enforce morality as it infringes individual autonomy, and so cases such as assisted suicide should be allowed as it is no harm to anyone else. If someone is in absolute agony or has a life ending condition, the fact that it doesnt harm the rest of society means that law shouldn't intervene. Similarly, the Wolfenden Report on homosexual acts and prostitution 1957 led to the sexual offences Act in 1967, meaning that homosexuality was allowed. Furthermore, the case of Bull & Bull v Hall & Preddy stated that a gay couple could book shared accommodation in hotels and guest houses, reflecting the positivist theory through the strengthening of gay rights. This has led to the Devlin/ Hart debate in which Devlin argues that where disgust or indignation is deeply felt, the law should criminalise behaviour. However, Hart stated that people should be free to pursue their idea of a good life so law shouldnt interfere with private morals.
To conclude, law should not enforce morality as what is done in private does not harm the rest of society. However, it is understandable that this is difficult in the circumstances that it is not just to perform acts in which the majority does not find moral