Law and Morality in English Law

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Discuss the relationship between law and morals and whether law should uphold moral values?

Phil Harris in an introduction to law defines a society’s ‘code of morality’ as a set of beliefs, values, principles and a standard of behaviour. A compliance with these rules is not compulsory and not required by the state. People are influenced by their family, friend’s religion. However, they could consider from themselves what they believe to be moral or immoral in their view, because a society is pluralistic and what one may consider to be immoral another may believe to be moral. For example some communities believe that being a single parent is morally wrong whereas many others see no moral issue with it. An individual’s morals develop gradually. But they very often come from religious rules made thousands of years ago. Overtime, conduct once considered immoral becomes acceptable, for example the view on homosexuality has changed in the last 50 years. Morals are enforced informally and are they are not enforceable by a member of the legal system as they are not a legal issue they are a rule that go against what another person believes Sir John Salmond, writing in the early twentieth century, described law as ‘the body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice’. John Austin described it as a command issued from sovereign power to the inferior and enforced by coercion. In Britain the Sovereign power is parliament although judges can also make legal rules that the inferior need to follow. Morals are left to the individual to decide on and whether or not they want to follow the beliefs of the community, whereas a law is compulsory for any person to follow, with no choice in whether to do so. Anyone who breaches a legal rule may result in being arrested, prosecuted and either fined or placed in prison for a period of time. There are many distinctions between law and morals when you compare the characteristics of both. One of...
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