Explain the meaning of law and morality

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Moral Pages: 3 (1533 words) Published: May 14, 2015
Explain the meaning of law and morality. Discuss whether the law does and should seek to uphold moral principles. (30 marks + 5 marks for AO3). Laws and morals are quite similar in some ways but they also have their differences. Law is best described as rules made by authority. John Austin defined law as a command from a sovereign power, law needs to be obeyed and is enforced through sanctions. Morality on the other hand is values and principles as opposed to rules. Phil Harris defines a society's 'code of morality' as a set of 'beliefs, values, principles and standards of behaviour'. Compliance is voluntary, though society can enforce moral codes informally, for example through social rejection. Moral rules are personal to the individual and not always shared with other people e.g. in the case of Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (1993) one might feel that withdrawing food and treatment from a patient who cannot recover is cruel because they are prolonging the suffering whilst another person might feel the opposite. Therefore the real moral dilemma is perhaps whether life in a situation of this sort should be prolonged or ended. There are many problems when it comes to identifying the moral values of society. According to Mary Warnock some people have different perspectives of morality sometimes they may look at things as matters of moral right or wrong and at another time may be thought to be insignificant. Durkheim, a French Sociologist's view is that it is difficult to identify a set of moral values shared by all because in an individualist Western culture where individuals differ it is unlikely that people will share the same values they might share many basic points but will not have identical moral values. There are a number of clear distinctions between law and morality. One example of the law not upholding morality whereby the law goes against some moral principles is in the case of Nettleship v Weston 1971). The defendant, a learner driver was made to pay...
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