JenniferPerez December18, 2017Philosophy380- Nutting Law v. Morals Law plays a huge part of everybody’s life. Toeach of us it means a distinctive thing. Historically, the idea of law has alsochanged many times. In ancient times, as revealed in the old testament, therewere a set of laws which were established by God. Each law was linked withdivine ruling rather than political needs. Today, laws are made by governmentofficials, who establish norms we live by according to society needs. Problemsarise when civil law conflicts with moral laws.
Is it more important that lawsreflect some moral principle or stray away? Thomas Aquinas, John Austin, andH.L.A Hart are philosophers with distinctive theories on how laws are createdand established.
Thomas Aquinas was a priest who believed everything wascreated by God; therefore, laws should have a moral ground. John Austin a legaltheorist claimed that legal law should clearly stray away from moral influence.However, H.L. A Hart by far had the best theory. Hart believed that law andmorality were closely related. Humans accept laws that maintain a politicalneed for social order and accordance to person connection to those laws. According, to Thomas Aquinas, he claimed thatGod created everything.
Aquinas ideas were based on the natural law theory. NaturalLaw theory claims that the law is based on what’s “right”. By using reasoning,humans can choose between what’s “good” and what’s “bad”. He followed Aristotle thinking about how actsof good and bad behavior ultimately define our happiness. “The first principle in practical matters,which are the object of the practical reason, is the last end, and the last endof human life is bliss or happiness, as stated above. Consequently, the lawmust needs regard principally the relationship to happiness. Moreover, sinceevery part is ordained to the whole as imperfect to perfect, and since a singleman is part of the perfect community, the law must needs regards properly therelationship to universal happiness” (Aquinas).
Eachthing that God creates has a purpose and a natural flow which leads to universalhappiness as a whole. When it comes to laws, each law should be in accordancewith the fundamental of natural law. Natural law is morally justified and isdriven by God’s own expectation for human. The theory of natural law is dependenton human intelligence. Better yet, natural law depends on humans’ interpretationof what god considers to be of “good” nature.
According to Aquinas, God is thesource of intelligence which he shared with mankind when God created us. For example,a man steals money from another man to feed his family. Today, governmentofficials have dictated that anybody who steals from another person should bepunished and sentenced to jail time for his/ her acts. If mankind were solelydriven by Aquinas’s theory, the man who stole money would have been morallyjustified. It is human nature to survive.
In order, to survive he needs moneyto feed himself and his family. This justification leads him to happinessbecause he will survive another day. Furthermore, what happens when a persondoesn’t believe in God? Is a person not held to any standards? In general, lawsshould be made to keep community members safe from the harm of one another. John Austin believed that only legalrepresentatives, like government officials, have authority to create laws. Hestated that, “The matter of jurisprudence is positive law, simply and strictlyso called: or law set by political superiors to political inferiors” (Austin). ToAustin, it’s not a law unless a government official has made it one’s legalobligation to do so. He suggests that all laws were once influenced by “commands”set out by a sovereign. Hecontinued to explain that, “where apositive law, not fashioned on a custom, is favourably received by the governedand enforced by their opinions or sentiments, we must deem the so called law,set by those opinions or sentiments, a law imperative and proper of the supremepolitical power” (Austin).
For Austin, it is important that there is adevelopment of law in a rational way rather than focusing solely on its moralcontribution. Austin makes the distinction between a “desire” and a “command”. A desire to follow a law is not as great asbeing commanded to obey a law. Aquinas theory motivated people to do the rightthing, in order, to find happiness; whereas, Austin’s theory reinforcementsanctions created by government official to entice people to follow laws. On the other hand, Hart understood therelationship between law and morality he believed it was minimal. He acceptedthat people would use morals to justify obeying laws and it is a technique to obligateothers to follow the laws, as well. But he believes there is rationalconnection between law and force or between morals and civil law. He classifieslaws into two into categories: primary and secondary rules.
Primary rules are “dutyimposing” rules that require people to act a certain way. In order, for primaryrules to function well, the rules must be clear and rational so that anybodycan understand the law correctly. For example, the U. S Constitution gives everyperson the right to freedom of speech which would be considered a primary rule.Secondary rules recognize and validate primary rules. In layman terms, it’s rules for rules themselves. Hart develops his understanding of naturallaw from basic human condition:Humans are vulnerableHumans are equal Humans believe in truism Humans have limited resources Humans have limited understandingBydoing so, Hart acknowledges that morals and law do have some sort ofrelationship. There has been a many argumentsbetween the connection of morals to civil law.