Public Morality

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Public morality is often referred to as moral and ethical standards that are enforced in a society, by the law, the police, or social pressure, and applied to public life, to the content of the media and to conduct in public places. Public morality usually involves the regulation of sexual matters, which include prostitution and homosexuality, but it also addresses the issues of nudity, pornography, the acceptability of cohabitation before marriage, and the protection of children (Wikpedia, 2006). It has been suggested by some that there is a growing occurrence of over criminalization in the United States, that our police, prosecutorial, and judicial time, personnel and resources are being preoccupied with an overload in attempts to regulate public morality. The question has been asked as to just how far our government-sanctioned view of morality should intrude into the private lives of its citizens. If we think about history and what is taking place and has taken place not only in the United States but in other countries as well, it is easy to determine that there is not a phenomenon of over criminalization in this country and that, in fact, the exact opposite may be occurring. Government officials both write and enforce the laws of our society. As a consequence government, and those who comprise it, not only intones their own set their own morals and ethics but they are put into the position of judging those of others. But it is fair to ask whether or not true justice is inherent in this process. To address that question, it is first important to realize that justice is more than just law; justice is the product of morals and ethics (Kropotkin, 1923). Three philosophical outlines in particular can be used to demonstrate this correlation. Plato provides perhaps the most enlightening view of the concept of justice. Indeed, his writings serve as the basis for many of the later philosophers which would follow in his footsteps (Dantzig, 1955). In The Republic he...
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