Obeying The Law

Topics: Human rights, Law, Justice Pages: 5 (1914 words) Published: April 5, 2006
A social structure is mandatory for the survival of humans. Man's natural affinity for evil and conflict has been around since the dawn of time - until order was maintained through the introduction of laws. Without law, the integrity and stability of society would diminish completely. As a strong advocate of determinism, Thomas Hobbes believes that a strict government is the only way to social stability.

Hobbes believed that a state of nature - one without a form of government - would essentially be a "war of all against all." This life would hardly be worth living due to the inherent evil nature of some human beings - selfishness, desperation and greed are the factors that define the "war of all against all state." Hobbes thought that people will violently compete in order to secure the basic necessities of life or for material gains; that people would compete and challenge others out of fear to ensure personal safety and to earn a glorified reputation so as to deter others from challenging us. Without some form of leadership, laws and government everyone would be in a state of universal insecurity dominated by fear. Even those who aren't selfish or cowardly - those who are inherently good - would behave selfishly and cowardly in order to secure their safety. They would have no problem, for example, attacking a potential threat if it would earn them a reputation of someone who shouldn't be "messed with." In the words of Hobbes "the wickedness of bad men also compels good men to have recourse, for their own protection, to the virtues of war, which are violence and fraud."

Laws have arisen in society as a way for the government to take control - to prevent negative behaviour from citizens in a society. Many behaviours have had a negative stigma associated with them due to religious beliefs and historically, laws were introduced as a means of preventing this unwanted, unacceptable behaviour. Issues of the past, no matter how unnecessary they may sound, posed a problem at one point or another and were dealt with the introduction of laws. Ancient Babylon's earliest law was a simple philosophy - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Roman laws consisted of such things as: "Whenever someone makes a formal promise or sells property, then according to law, that promise must be carried out" or "if anyone sings abusive songs about somebody else, he shall be put to death." Another law was more conditional: "If anyone breaks somebody else's limb and does not apologize, then the other man can break the first man's limb in return." This law was conditional based on an apology. A uniform legal code was first introduced for the whole Roman Empire and issues were dealt with through lawyers and a judge - Canadian legal code is loosely based on these principles. Even today, there are some ridiculous laws that may seem unnecessary in Canada, such as: "You can't drag a dead horse down Yonge St. on a Sunday" or "having the colour of house and garage doors being regulated by city bylaws." Both those laws seem irrelevant to societal norms in Canada, but they posed a threat at one point or another.

Laws are fundamental means of protection and ownership for everyone within society. They enforce fair and equal treatment of all citizens in society. The goal of the law is to ensure that there is fairness to all and justice. Justice is only achieved through equal treatment to every member in society and that is why there are strict laws with the punishment for each crime being the same. If punishments varied for two murderers who commit the exact same form of murder then one of them would be done an injustice - something which is unacceptable in society. The law must treat every group and every individual equally to maintain order in society.

As well as maintaining order, the law and the equivalent punishments for breaking it have many purposes. For a start, the main purpose of the law is the remove the dangerous person - the criminal -...
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