Legislating Morality

This is a soap box rant of mine.

I am tired of hearing folks say you can not legislate morality.  This is a falsehood.  The only thing you can legislate is morality.  Let me make my case.

First my thesis is simple.  All legislation is based on a moral code.

I like to keep my theses simple so that folks will not equivocate on what I am trying to say.  Here is a most simple example of one of the most mundane laws on the books.   The speed limit.

Okay everyone has an opinion on what the speed limits should be in varying circumstances.  I myself do as well but I will  not speak to that in any way.   I thought through all the laws I could and even did a search on Google to determine if there was a law I could find that I could see no moral code for.  I could find none so if you find one please leave it in the comments below and I will respond to it as soon as I am able.

Now onto the speed limit.

When one thinks of speed zones they often will think of school zones, freeways, neighborhood streets and that is normal.   When legislators think of speed zones they think of the reason behind the speed zones.  This is where morality comes into play.  Why should we drive slower in a school zone as opposed to a freeway.  We believe for the safety of our children we drive slower in school zones because it is more frequent that a child could run into the street and get hit by a vehicle there then anywhere else.  If we are going slow enough then we may be able to stop prior to hitting them or at least minimize damage when they get hit if we are slow enough.    The question is why does this matter?

Glad you asked.  I know what you are thinking “I did not ask” I beg to differ you did too ask.  Okay Here I go.  It matters because our moral code says it is not okay to run over a child even if it is not our fault.  We must take precautions for the protect of our little ones.  We understand that we must limit our freedoms to some degree for others if we are to live in any sort of community.   The larger the community the more limits that are put on our freedoms.  The smaller the community the less limits needed.

This bring us back to legislating morality.  Of course morality is legislated every first year philosophy student should be able to tell you why.   The answer is simple.  Laws in and of themselves are a moral code.  It is what we as a society believe to be important enough for us to enforce them.  Once we put it to paper it becomes codified as a community moral code.  Whether this community is 20 folks in a small rural backwater village somewhere or a 20 million person large city or a 300 million person large country.   You will find though there are small differences between moral codes by community and even within community.  That though is another discussion.

I am keeping this short.  I hope I am clear and concise and I hope that I never ever have to hear again you cant legislate morality.  Oh well I am sure I will since barely anyone actually reads what I write.  Over and out for now.  Till I have time for my next big post.


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