'Laws should only be enacted to prevent harm to others'. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Society has introduced the concept of laws to ensure the manufacturing of justice, but legislation does not always cater to the requirements of humanity; judicial activism assists in resolving the ambiguities created by legislature, enabling laws to accommodate novel situations. Laws, in the case of this essay, will be taken to refer to both statutory and common laws; harm will refer to the causing of distress or damage towards another person, either physically or through the loss and damage of property. This essay will argue against the statement, for the belief that preventing harm is not the only reason for laws to be enacted.
The prevention of harm to others refers to the criminal aspects of law, such as offences against the person, property crimes and fatal offences. However, criminal law is one of several aspects of what compose the constitution, with others being commercial, private equity, personal injury and many more. Although criminal law tends to be heavily publicised as the largest element of legal systems globally, it tends to be other areas that affect the public most commonly. For example, employment and tax law affects every employed citizen in the UK, and these are important as they allow for the protection of citizens. In opposition, another may say that criminal law is the most publicised as it is the most detrimental to society, should criminal behaviour not be regulated it could create an animalistic society where no one is safe.
Furthermore, laws are necessary for more than just the prevention of harm, as without areas such as family or corporate law, humanity would not function smoothly. Each area of law ties into one another, for instance immigration laws enable immigrants to become employed, placing them under employment law. As this is the case, it cannot be argued that one area of law should be prioritised over another, thus conveying that no one purpose of the law is more important than another. However, it may be argued that as these laws all depend upon each other, they could all be categorised under the purposes of one another; for example, commercial laws have the purpose of keeping businesses secure and functioning, but constitutional law could be seen as having a similar purpose of keeping the government and society operating. Thus, it could be said that the purpose of all laws is to prevent harm to others.
For laws to be suitable to govern a society, they must be regulated with the purpose of ensuring that they are fair and just. This regulation is enacted by the government and judiciary, who implement new laws in order to manage legislation. One purpose of the law should be to prevent harm to others, as we see through the Criminal Justice System and Crown Prosecution Service, which work to stop criminality within society, aiming to safeguard the public. But another purpose of the law is rightfully the prevention of harm to oneself, such as in times of emotional instability or mental illness when a person's actions are not in their own interest. An example of this could be the current illegality of suicide. Although many would argue that a person who has taken their own life cannot and should not be punished, the law aims to avert citizens from committing the act, with the purpose of preserving the well-being of that person.
To conclude, I disagree with the statement as laws should, and do, have more purposes than just the prevention of harm to others, hence the various practices and areas of legislature. This is clear through many laws which aim to keep society functioning and prevent harm to oneself as well as others, suggesting that it would be unfair to prioritise one purpose of the law upon another.