Law is a system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by imposing penalties, where as morality is the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. The question circles around just what rules the community/country recognizes and how is a principle viewed as right or wrong.
Different countries may have their own definition of morality and their own set of rules; but after looking at several cases in different places and time periods, can one say that law is truly based on morality? And if so, whose morality, theirs or universally? The answer depends on multiple points of views. Even with the diversity present on this Earth, there are several actions that countries all over the world deem as immoral and consequently illegal.
No matter where one goes – in this time period – acts of murder, theft, assaults (all types), and fraud are all met with great consequences. This was not the case in the Holocaust led by Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. At the time, they thought there was nothing wrong with killing the people whom they thought were “immoral” such as the Jews and homosexuals and their actions were not met with any consequence. Here, the idea of morality was influenced by the country’s political conditions. Also, US slavery was legalized until 1864, however immoral it was.
Hence, the country plays a big a role in determining what is moral and what isn’t, even if the classification is not true. “Desperate times call for desperate measures” is a common proverb that we say to justify otherwise immoral acts as okay because of the extreme conditions. For example, murder is always wrong but in the case of killing a person who threatens your life out of self-defense, should the person be judged as equally as a heartless murderer? People disagree, but most of them think it is not immoral in this case.
The law then studies the case and may give the person a lower penalty. A starving family that steals food in order to live might also bend the rules of immorality. No parent would see his child starving to death and continue watching. In this case, it is necessary to break the law even if the action is morally wrong. An act that most people find no immorality in is illegal downloading from the internet. Illegal, true, but in the eyes of most, if it does no harm to anyone, then it is not immoral.
Religion also plays an important part in determining the concept of morality in people’s minds. In Saudi Arabia, the monarchy follows the Islamic law, that is, it runs the country by the holy book of Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings, which also greatly affects the people’s way of life. Homosexuality is considered a crime and a sin and Islamic law orders the execution of such practitioners, where as in many states and countries, it is now legalized and most people stopped deeming it as immoral, but merely a choice of life.
Premarital sex is also considered a big sin and leads to big consequences such as whipping or stoning to death in Islamic laws, while also viewed as morally wrong in other religions. Many other countries do not implement religious views in law hence religion does not interfere with the people’s way of life and so premarital sex does not break any law. So, what may be viewed as immoral and illegal in some areas may not necessarily be considered the same in other areas. In conclusion, I could say that law is almost always truly based on morality with few extreme exceptions where people find no immorality in.
Even though some morals are universal, some are inclined to certain points of views that don’t necessarily agree with the views of others in different areas and ages. Lots of factors contribute to morality which, in turn, influences the law. 1) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Holocaust 2) “When Is Stealing Justified, and If It Can Be, Who Can Be Justifiably Stolen From? ” Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo! , n. d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013 3) “Definition of Law in English. ” Law: Definition of Law in Oxford Dictionary (British & World English). N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. Bibliography