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Something being "the law" or "against the law" doesn't make it right or wrong.

Discussion in 'Debate Forum' started by Philosophizer, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. Philosophizer

    Philosophizer Member

    The statement in the title seems obvious to many, as it should. After all, there are always debates and disagreements as to which laws are "working" or not, which laws should be passed or not, which ones should be repealed etc. Humans are imperfect, and as such, will advocate for and pass imperfect or even dangerous laws. Despite this fact, a lot of people tend to view and refer to the individual laws passed wherever they live as "the law", suggesting that it is legitimate to enforce all laws solely because they are enacted as law.

    In Nazi Germany, it was "against the law" to murder. It was also "against the law" to aid a Jew in hiding trying to escape persecution. Both of these laws are lumped together in the term "the law", yet one makes sense and the other is immoral and oppressive. This example is just one of many that demonstrates how "the law" can be either good or bad, which means that someone isn't necessarily a bad person for disobeying bad laws or a good person for following or enforcing unjust laws. Those in Nazi Germany who broke "the law" to give shelter to Jews avoiding persecution were good people for protecting them against unspeakable evil, and those "law-abiding citizens" who obeyed the government and turned over Jews to the authorities were complicit in helping the Nazis commit inhumane atrocities.

    While many current governments do not resemble Nazi Germany, the nature and concept of law has stayed consistent throughout its inception; one of the key principles being that whatever is law must be obeyed, regardless of any valid criticism or arguments against specific laws embodied in "the law". However, if some laws are imperfect and even result in negative consequences because the humans who write them are imperfect, why must every law be respected and obeyed? The phrase "It's the law" or "It's against the law" in regards to why someone should or shouldn't do something is not an argument, since it would imply that everything that is "the law" is good, and everything that is against "the law" is bad. In short, answering the question of why someone has to or can't do something with "It's the law" or "It's against the law" is the same as saying "Because the politicians who passed the law say so". Even a young child is usually unsatisfied with the response "Because I/We/They etc. say so", as it is easy to realize there is no actual substance, reason(s), argument or answer in that reply.

    Inevitably, after reading the above, some people will ask "How could you believe the law means nothing? You don't think it should be illegal to murder, steal and assault?" The point I am trying to make is that murder, theft and assault are immoral irrespective of whether or not it is against "the law" (Obviously there are more actions and behaviors that are immoral; I am just using these three as examples). Politicians are just people, and the laws they write can't determine truth or morality any more than they can determine what 1+1 equals. In other words, 1+1=2 because 1+1=2, not because any particular person or group of people (obviously including politicians) understand, claim or agree that 1+1=2. Again, the same holds true for morality: murder, theft and assault are immoral because of the harm those actions cause to others, not because politicians, you or I personally believe that those actions are immoral (which I do). Our beliefs and understanding of reality don't create or shape reality, it is the other way around: reality shapes our perceptions and understanding of it.

    To conclude, "the law" should not be seen or used as an indicator, guide or determinant as to what is right or wrong and how people should act and behave. People shouldn't attack others because it's immoral, not necessarily just because some politicians write down that it's "illegal", and people have the right to defend themselves from aggressors regardless of what "the law" says. In addition, people have the right and moral duty to disobey any law that is immoral (such as oppressive laws like The Fugitive Slave Act in the 1800's in the U.S. and laws restricting Jews' social participation in Nazi Germany), rendering the law's perceived authority useless, as no one has the right to enforce laws that are immoral.
     
  2. Swordsman4

    Swordsman4 Well-Known Member

    People will criticize me for saying this, but I believe there's a higher standard than law and that is the standards that God set. I believe that when the law of man and the laws of God conflict that the laws of God triumph. If laws are enacted that prevent me from worshipping Christ the Lord, I would continue to worship because God's law trump man's laws. If man's laws give me an edict to harm people like the Nazis did long ago, I will abide by Jesus' command that to do unto the least of these is to do unto Me and reject said law.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  3. bobjr

    bobjr Life is....Weird Staff Member Moderator

    Like this hasn't been the basis for countless violent and harmful acts throughout human history.

    But laws are more set as guidelines to stop people from their more dangerous impulses. Sometimes it doesn't work, such as gambling laws not really doing much to fix that, and drug laws, which have really made things worse in some cases. People fear negative consequences, which is why asking that girl out is scary, but it also stops people from stealing or killing in revenge because things could go bad for them if they're caught. It's not going to stop everyone, but it gives a sense of order in a naturally chaotic world. That's why laws change as values change, and why the law should be challenged when there are reasons to challenge it.
     
  4. Philosophizer

    Philosophizer Member

    Oh, the irony. You condemn Christianity for causing people to behave violently, so do you condemn the belief in "authority" and "government" for making people believe they are justified in bombing cities and killing countless innocent civilians during wars? I doubt it.

    You don't need "laws" (random people called "politicians" writing down stuff on paper that must be followed) that declare that murder, theft, etc. will be punished for people to have the right to defend and stop killers, thieves etc. themselves.
     
  5. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen Well-Known Member

    The issue chalks up to who gives people their rights. The government? God? Gods? The people themselves? Was Locke right about people being good and reasonable? Was Hobbes right about people being wicked and chaotic?
     
  6. Philosophizer

    Philosophizer Member

    This is a good question. If we assume that our rights come from the politicians in government, then we assume our rights can be arbitrarily taken away by them as well if they repeal "laws" that give people rights, or if they pass laws restricting peoples' rights. We should have the right to free speech, property, etc. regardless if "the law" gives us those rights, and if "laws" restrict those rights, they don't have to be obeyed and enforced just because it's called "law" and passed by people in "authority".
     
  7. bobjr

    bobjr Life is....Weird Staff Member Moderator

    Nope, it's all the same thing really. Regardless of the belief the actions should still be shamed. But treating one as different from the other is kinda silly when it leads to the same result.

    Why not? We have clear self defense laws, outside of dumb stand your ground ones, and without a proper legal system people taking things into their own hands tends to work out badly for most societies. Just look at all the people who watch The Purge movies and think it's a good idea.
     
  8. chess-z

    chess-z flora femme

    Ultimately, with all of the knowledge we have, it's all subjective. Personally, I want to believe that humanity is an overall good force and in that some of pur laws will relfect that. I feel like the is/ought fallacy is going to come up here at some point, so I'm watching and waiting, so that I can call it out.
     
  9. Swordsman4

    Swordsman4 Well-Known Member

    Yes, laws were created to curb impulsive decisions; but I believe it goes further than that. Man at his core is wretched--we see this when we see people hurt each other, family split apart, and violence around the world. That's why God created the law; however, in the process He showed us man is incapable of perfection and total obedience to the law. That's why Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sin.
     
  10. Sadib

    Sadib Time Lord Victorious

    TC reminds of Golden Pure, who was an anarchist who messaged with me until he was banned.

    Please stop preaching. It's really annoying. You're not going to convince anyone to convert to Christianity. You'd have to be extremely arrogant to think that's possible. That means you're feeble minded, so it should be relatively easy to convince you that your faith is completely wrong.
     
  11. L. Lawliet

    L. Lawliet Black Ice Trainer

    ok, so some philosophy time here.
    this argument is based upon several factors. Is it man who decides what is moral? Or god?
    We know it isn't God or any deity due to the many conflicting moral quandaries each one has with one another.
    Man kind turns to thinks like the Torah, bible, quran, etc as a way to justify things they have done. This is where things like the crusades and the misogyny in islam stem from. They make laws to put themselves in the clear so in the law's eyes they are ok.
    When laws and church disagree, this is where issues come.
    Modern day, this leads to whistleblowing, rogue cops like dorner, and is represented in media such as Eagle eye(great movie) or Captain america(comics, movies, w/e. its like his theme).
    Chelsea(then Bradley) manning decided to leak government documents after seeing some attrocities such as civilian casualties in the Baghdad airstrikes. Dorner shot many of his fellow officers in the LAPD(?) after seeing several instances of racism.

    And dudes, lets not turn this into a church sermon, but please respect his views. He hasn't been rude to you lot
     
  12. bobjr

    bobjr Life is....Weird Staff Member Moderator

    Preaching your views as the only valid way while viewing any opposing one as something not even considering is pretty rude. Not in an outright way but in a subtle one.

    Even if you're a biblical literalist God didn't create the law, he created what he wanted as order, which changed over time. Why do you think one book in the bible talks about no killing, while another talks about how war is totally cool, especially if it's against a race of literal giants. Or when they say to love your neighbor, only for another time God appears and kills people who marry outside of their tribe?

    I wish the other gods in the bible helped worked that stuff out. Bael sounded like a cool dude.
     
  13. chess-z

    chess-z flora femme

    Assuming that there is no god, morality can be logically assumed to be an emergant property of humanity. Since humanity can change, so can morality, and most laws are based on some person's (or group of people's) morals, which are changed over time to reflect the ideals of society.

    Side note: Since the Bible contradicts itself every two chapters, it's impossible to take it all literally, and as such, not a stable source for forming a flawless moral code. You have to pick and choose laws to follow, because some of them are insane and out of date.
     
  14. L. Lawliet

    L. Lawliet Black Ice Trainer

    Exactly, which is what i was getting at before.

    Laws are weird, cause it is one of the few things that are objective and subjective at the same time. We can all agree murder is bad, so we make it against the law. However, we can also agree its ok to shoot a guy if it comes down to you or him(hopefully it doesn't).
    The best way i can explain it is that there are exceptions to established rules that take certain circumstances to be right.
     

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