Relationship Between Law And Morals Essays

“The existence of law is one thing; its merit or demerit is another.

Whether it be or be not is one enquiry; whether it be or be not comfortable to an assumed standard, is a different enquiry.

The ‘ought’ part was answered by the key criterion of judging – or as he put it, the ‘sacred truth’ -that the greatest happiness of the greatest number of number is the foundation of morals and legislation.

‘Enlightened self-interest’ provided the key to understanding ethics, so that a person who always acted with a view to his own maximum satisfaction in the long run would always act rightly.

He contrasted between ‘right’ and ‘law’ and thought that each person in the state of nature has a right to everything and urged that law is necessary to make social order possible.

But Hobbes didn’t go further and failed to determine how the state is going to rule and what should guide the state as Stephen Collins argued “….

He rejected Blackstone’s naturalist theory that Human laws are of no validity if contrary to the laws of God (Divine law) by arguing “…to say that human laws which conflict with the divine law are not binding, that is to say are not laws, is to talk stark nonsense.” , besides this there was the actual accepted morality of a social group or ‘positive’ morality.

The most important factor that Austin elucidated in his lecture is that when a law is in conflict with positive morality or laws of God, people, in no sense, will be better off to disobey it.

What makes something law does nothing to guarantee its moral value.

Austin combined the laws of God and Human laws (laws set down by men for men) as ‘laws properly so called’ and made a distinction between them.


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