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Ethics and the Law

Ethics and the Law

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Published by Dew Helmer
Is the law a good foundation for ethics?_____________
Is the law a good foundation for ethics?_____________

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Published by: Dew Helmer on Jan 07, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"What is ethics? The word itself is sometimes used to refer to the set of rules,principles, or ways of thinking that guide, or claim authority to guide, the actionsof a particular group,” says John Deigh in Robert Audi (ed),
The CambridgeDictionary of Philosophy 
, 1995.
Morality (from theLatin 
"manner, character, proper behavior") has three principalmeanings.First, descriptive usage, morality means acode of conductor belief which is held to beauthoritative in matters of right and wrong. Morals are arbitrarily created and subjectively definedby society, philosophy,religion, and/or individualconscience. Second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of belief and conduct,one which would be espoused in preference to other alternatives by the sane "moral" person,under specified conditions.In its third usage, 'morality' is synonymous withethics.Ethics is the systematic philosophical study of the moral domain.
Ethics seeks to address questions such as how a moral outcomecan be achieved in a specific situation (applied ethics), how moral values should be determined(normative ethics), what morals people actually abide by (descriptive ethics), what the fundamental nature of ethics or morality is, including whether it has any objective justification(meta-ethics), and how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is (moral psychology).
Taken from:Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.Is the law a good foundation for ethics? The simple answer is no, for thefollowing reasons:The law is “given” so to speak by those with power and authority, (P&A) to thosewithout P&A.The givers of the law are beholden to those who bestow them with power.This unavoidable, (outside of Plato's Republic) reality means those with P&A willuse it to justify and maintain it for themselves. To this end they will naturallywork to entrench themselves all the while paying tribute, so to speak to their masters. The effects of these entrenchments will skew and soften the laws for some, provide cover and contradictory exemptions for others, yet still others willbe exempted entirely. Rules that should apply to all will not apply to the selectfew who have paid for that privilege. Since only laws that are universal bydefinition can really be just, any laws not so applied are corrupt in spirit if not intechnicality. In terms of a maxim anything which has intrinsic to it that which iscorrupt is unworthy as a edifice as a system for making value choices.
The law is frequently inadequate to deal with the vagaries and exigentcircumstances of real life, it is capricious and inequitable in its application acrossthe spectrum of a given citizenry.Ethics only has meaning as it relates to human values and choices. Machineshave no need of ethics, neither plants, nor stones, ideas don't, nor do anyentities outside of those which posses the characteristic of sentience. Theawareness of “self” coupled with the awareness of “others” creates an inevitabletruth, or reality in which choice's must be made. Choices that will have bearingand impact upon oneself, others, and ones environment. As laws are rooted in,and dependent on systems, systems that by their very nature are flawed bymyriad limits in comprehension, application, intent, and design such that theycan only attempt to approximate what value is or is not. As such they fail tocomprehend the subtleties that true values comprise.Additionally the fidelity of the law is dependent upon the system which applies it.Thus the law is swift for some, delayed for others, this creates further inequitiesthat disqualify it as a bases for ethics. Say two persons commit a similar crimeand are caught, and that one has means while the other doesn't. It is entirelypossible, if not probable that the person of means will avoid the consequencesproscribed in the law, while the other will likely be hapless as a clam on a beach.Is a true value intrinsic in the case and outcome of one but not the other, doeshaving the means to manipulate in the legal system some how change thequality of the value or act?This finagle foundation of the law is inherent to itself. It therefore lacks theintegrity needed to define value.How to chose and set moral values should not be left to anything as dubious asthe law. The idea that some authority outside one’s self can or should be givensuch a responsibility is antagonistic and anathema to the very concept of ethicalchoice. In fact it is
to accept the law as the derivation of one’s choices,though obeisance to the law is many times in ones interests, the law has nomoral authority of its own and derives it only when its conception and applicationare unsullied by they who make and affect it.

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