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Reader Spotlight: Can Morality Be Legislated?

A reader chimes in on legislating morality

Last week, I asked you a question: Can morality be legislated? Steve S, quickly commented on the post with a great perspective.

Often, people don’t take the time to scroll down and read the comments of a post so I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting his response here.

According to Steve S.

The short answer is no, it can’t and shouldn’t be legislated.

While I’ve pretty much always believed that morality couldn’t actually be legislated, I used to believe that laws could be used to, at a minimum, encourage moral behavior, if not outright enforce it. But that was before I understood about liberty, and what it really meant, and didn’t really understand how our nation’s laws are truly supposed to be based on the Constitution.

Since I now better understand that enforcing a law which has made a crime out of an act that does no harm to anyone other than the one committing the act, is itself an immoral act, much more so than the original act. By using the government to enforce morality, we are condoning the use of force against another person(s) to make them do as we see fit, to force them to conform to our beliefs. Sound familiar?

This also creates the problem of moral hazard, which does the opposite of what the laws are expecting. People end up looking to the government to decide what is right and wrong, rather than to their family, cultural norms, or religious beliefs or traditions.

I’ve given a great deal of thought to this questions and I don’t think I could say it any better than Steve S.

(I posted my answer to the question earlier this week.)

What do you think? 

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4 Comments on “Reader Spotlight: Can Morality Be Legislated?”

  1. Meagan Says:

    I totally agree!

    Reply

  2. David Says:

    I must disagree in part, by definition all JUST laws penalize immoral behavior and are based on Natural Law or Moral Law which is universal. Just laws are the safeguard of liberty, not a barrier to it. Without law there would be chaos and anarchy. Murder, Theft, Rape, Robbery, Assault, Incest, Perjury and Sexual Abuse of a Child are all morally wrong and every civilized society has laws against committing these acts and establishing penalties for those who violate them.

    It is therefore unjust laws which are immoral, not all laws. There can be no liberty unless it is protected by laws, i.e. without property rights a property owner would have no legal remedy to stop another person or group of people from trespassing, stealing or destroying their property.

    When the Founders established this great nation they also established just laws based on the universal standard of Natural Law, or as Jefferson penned, “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence. I’m sure none of the Founding Fathers would believe how far away from the firm foundation they laid out for us we’ve moved as a nation.

    Over time, we’ve allowed our national, state and local governments to enact unjust laws, laws based on the ever changing whims of man instead of the immovable Standard of Natural Law and that is the root of our nation’s troubles.

    Reply

  3. Joe Says:

    Hi David –

    You said “Murder, Theft, Rape, Robbery, Assault, Incest, Perjury and Sexual Abuse of a Child are all morally wrong and every civilized society has laws against committing these acts and establishing penalties for those who violate them.”

    I don’t think that Steve S. was arguing otherwise. I believe he was arguing that crimes without a victim, that do no harm to anyone else, shouldn’t be enacted because they infringe on personal liberties.

    I’m curious about your take on that.

    Thanks!

    Joe

    Reply

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  1. 11 Questions | PreppingToSurvive.com - September 10, 2012

    […] Reader Spotlight: Can Morality Be Legislated? […]

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