Law and Morals Essay

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Law and Morality Essay Laws are explicit rules set by the government or governing body to keep order and justice in the UK. They are usually enforced by penalties, fines, imprisonment etc. Salmond defined law as "the body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice". Morals are implicit rules which each individual has affecting every decision and choice we make every day. They are not enforced as they are down to what an individual believes however if not followed they can sometimes carry a social stigma. Religion is arguably the largest source of morality, e.g. the UK’s laws on murder and theft can be traced back to the 10 commandments. The difference between them is that although many people share the same morals some don’t, whereas everybody must follow the same law. This can be an issue when the two overlap as what one person sees as morally correct in law, another may not. Another difference is the fact that law can change instantly whereas morals take time to change e.g. homosexuality was legalised instantly by the Sexual Offences Act 1967 whereas people’s opinions and morals on the situation are still changing, even today. A recent example where law and morals collided was in the case of Adam Johnson a professional footballer who slept with a 15 year old girl. In the eyes of the law this is illegal as someone under the age of 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse. However, the girl was in a nightclub where you have to be 18 and she told the defendant that she was 18. So is it still his fault? The defendant was immediately suspended from his football club and after his return to the team has suffered constant abuse. It is evident that moral viewpoints have a great influence over law making (e.g. Common law is built from the moral decisions of judges over decades), although this depends on the area of law involved.

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