What makes a law a "good" law?

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madel
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 03:11 am
I'm writing my thesis and have hammered out most of the details, but I found the question interesting (I suppose that's sort of obvious, now ain't it?) and thought y'all might as well:

What makes a law "good"? That is, not in a moral sense, in a...erm...telos sense...a funtionality sense.


[SIZE="1"]...I've learned, from this, that I really ought to avoid posting questions at 2am :p [/SIZE]
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:26 pm
@madel,
If the majority of the population disagrees with the law and does not obey or contribute to its enforcement (say some drug laws) it is a bad law.
Good laws respect the right of individuals to self determination and choice. Laws which represent "tyranny of the majority" are also not good laws.
Every time you pass a law you create "criminals" so the fewest laws compatible with a functioning society is desirable.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 02:39 pm
@madel,
madel;106331 wrote:
I'm writing my thesis and have hammered out most of the details, but I found the question interesting (I suppose that's sort of obvious, now ain't it?) and thought y'all might as well:

What makes a law "good"? That is, not in a moral sense, in a...erm...telos sense...a funtionality sense.


...I've learned, from this, that I really ought to avoid posting questions at 2am :p


A good law should be enforceable, sufficiently precise, so that it can be enforced, and in general accord with the morality of the population it covers. And:

Law is order, and good law is good order. http://www.quotationspage.com/icon_info.gifhttp://www.quotationspage.com/icon_plus.gifhttp://www.quotationspage.com/icon_email.gifhttp://www.quotationspage.com/icon_blank.gif
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), Politics
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 03:44 pm
@madel,
I would like mention the idea of meta-law, or rather 'lore',
and contrast it with legal law.

If a legal law is bad, then it violates lore.
Lore would be a natural feature of the world, regardless of legal law.

So if a society decides that theft is not against the law, then it has violated lore,
because such a society will eventually collapse.

Now the difference between the two may be vast or small.
Certainly, no law can ever perfectly describe lore, because laws are all utilitarian
and require that some people will lose out for the good of the majority.

But the issue really is, can we at some point do away with law, and just live according to lore?
Well, for most people this is the way we do live.
Law serves only a small minority of wealthy people,
indeed it mostly only serves the legal fraternity at the expense of the majority.

But, people are so corrupt in terms of lore, that we need law to prevent society
from turning into mob-anarchy - or so goes the argument.

However if "people are corrupt" is a premise, then giving people power by the
force of law, actually increases that corrupt potential.

So this is why I find Christian anarchy such an appealling idea.
The new testament warns about the corrupt nature of law,
in fact the whole bible does, and it reccomends we follow
the 10 commandments to avoid being robbed by the law.

The point is simply that in order for any system to work,
the people in that system need to observe lore; because if
law is required because of corruption, then that law is going to be corrupt
because of the premise "people are corrupt".

When asked if I believe capitalism or communism is better,
I believe that either system can work, so long as people
have consciousness; awareness of the nature of people.

The soviets outlawed the lore of the Bible, and they collapsed.
China has its own cultural lore, and it thrives - as a communist country
(much to the annoyance of the capitalists who pretend otherwise)

Now the western world is turning away from God's lore,
and the cracks are becomming worse and worse.

So to answer the q
Quote:

"What makes a law a "good" law?"

is this :
the conscience of the people

....

Furthemore, just to note that so long as money plays any role in legal procedings,
then law will be far removed from lore : as money is something which brings about inequality; and this subverts completely the notion of equality before the law.
 
madel
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 03:03 am
@Poseidon,
I suppose that's what I get for writing questions at 2 in the morning...Looking at it now, I probably just asked a question that has been asked a hundred times before. Sorry about that...

What I had meant to ask was more along the lines of, "prior to a bill becoming a law (or whatever process and so terminology is used), how can one tell if it is a good law, a bad law or a neutral law?"

Given that I failed to make that clear, however, I'll respond to what what has thus far been pondered and hope that future responders see this post Smile

Quote:
If the majority of the population disagrees with the law and does not obey or contribute to its enforcement (say some drug laws) it is a bad law.

I could agree with this if the population, as it were, was not so easy to persuade - basing a law's value on majority opinion (which is constantly shifting) is too subjective for my tastes. For example, by this reasoning, "equal but seperate" should have remained in effect longer than it did (in the USA). It wasn't until after changes began that the population as a whole changed its mind - should the Supreme Court have, then, -not- overturned the "seperate but equal" doctrine?

Quote:
Good laws respect the right of individuals to self determination and choice.

To what end? Where is the boundary?

Quote:
Laws which represent "tyranny of the majority" are also not good laws.

What determines if a law represents the "tyranny of the majority" versus simply a "majority"?

Quote:
Every time you pass a law you create "criminals" so the fewest laws compatible with a functioning society is desirable.

I don't know that one creates "criminals" -every- time one passes a law (there are, after all, different sorts of laws - many are simply procedural), but I'd say this statement otherwise marks a good overall idea regarding the understanding of what a body of law should be.

Quote:
A good law should be enforceable, sufficiently precise, so that it can be enforced, and in general accord with the morality of the population it covers.

In order: agreed; agreed in principle; don't necessarily agree: the morality of a population shifts drastically, sometimes very quickly and usually regionally. Because this could make older laws outdated but still enforeceable, I'm in favor of a code of law which is not based on the morality of the population it covers (in so far as that is possible - many laws are based on morality, and I believe these sorts of laws should be examined very closely before enacted).

Quote:
Law is order, and good law is good order.

Fair enough, though 'ol Ari did have more to say than that because, of course, this quotation by itself forces us to define "order", "good", and therefore "good law" and "good order". :p

Quote:
...the conscience of the people

Poseidon: Your post requires more time to respond than I currently have available, however...I will state there are aspects I agree with, but many aspects I do not and I'll be responding as soon as I get a chance Smile
 
IntoTheLight
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 03:24 am
@madel,
madel;106560 wrote:

What I had meant to ask was more along the lines of, "prior to a bill becoming a law (or whatever process and so terminology is used), how can one tell if it is a good law, a bad law or a neutral law?"


I don't think your question is answerable since terms like "good" "bad" are completely relative.

Take for example abortion rights laws that protect a woman's right to have an abortion.

To someone who is pro-abortion, this is a good law.
To someone who is anti-abortion, this is a bad law.

Another example - Eminent Domain laws:

To the city that is trying to make way for a new factory that will provide jobs, this is a good law. To the person who is getting forced out of a house they've owned for 40 years, this is a bad law.

Laws, in themselves, are neutral. They can only be considered "good or bad" in terms of the context that they affect people.

-ITL-
 
madel
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 03:43 am
@IntoTheLight,
Ha ha - and I suppose this is what I get for reposting at bloody 2 in the morning (what am I doing awake?!?! Sigh).

A further clarification in the form of entirely restating my question Smile

Prior to a bill (or like) becoming law, how might one gauge whether it will be a "good" law, a "bad" law or a "neutral" law in terms of it being a functional law - living up to its telos as a law. If one were, say, a senator, is there a matrix one might use to determine the answer to this question?

As a further clarification: I have tried to keep this question both broad and narrow at the same time - that is, allowing for answers to be as specific as a person wants, and as vague and broad as one wants. I've also left key words undefined for that same reason...In my thesis,I tried to keep my defitions as objective as possible but that's not some people's style.

In my thesis, for example, I attempted to answer this question as though I were a (particularly thoughtful) senator in the USA and as such the answer relied partially on the law's Constitutionality. I took other directions as well, but perhaps that will help shed light on what I'm trying to ask

...so to answer you, IntheLight...
Quote:
I don't think your question is answerable since terms like "good" "bad" are completely relative.

I'm hoping that responders will define "good" and "bad" as it applies to their answers to this question. Good and bad can have any number of definitions, and not all have to be relative - after all, we wouldn't have laws period if this most basic question were simply left in the air. Examples of attempts at objective views of good and bad would include consequentialism and Kant's categorical imperative.
I'm asking people to take a stance on good and bad and apply it to this question Smile

...here's hoping that made more sense Smile
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 05:40 pm
@madel,
A good law is one that puts money in my pocket, and executes those who threaten me.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 06:32 pm
@madel,
madel;106331 wrote:
I'm writing my thesis and have hammered out most of the details, but I found the question interesting (I suppose that's sort of obvious, now ain't it?) and thought y'all might as well:

What makes a law "good"? That is, not in a moral sense, in a...erm...telos sense...a funtionality sense.


...I've learned, from this, that I really ought to avoid posting questions at 2am :p


Morals are morals because they are functional... They do a job for humanity and not on humanity....And the best social expression of morals is this: Mind your own business, and not some other person's business unless it makes itself your business...Other than that, people have the right to self defense, and no right to provoke the need for self defense...Courts should never decide law, but it should be presumed that every conflict between people represents a want of justice, and that justice should be decided, or resolution should be facilitated...As you can see, this is not much like present law... People know how to behave if they have ever lived in a family...You cannot make a law requiring people to be good for goodness sake, but that is exactly the reason that motivates most people, because most people are good, and they seek the good they give...
All the aims of government are expressed in the preamble of the contitution are worthy goals and should be supported by law...The motto to appear on the first coin minted in America was: mind your business... I think it should be our national motto...
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 10:58 pm
@madel,
madel;106331 wrote:
I'm writing my thesis and have hammered out most of the details, but I found the question interesting (I suppose that's sort of obvious, now ain't it?) and thought y'all might as well:

What makes a law "good"? That is, not in a moral sense, in a...erm...telos sense...a funtionality sense.
- that it takes account for most things in life, that it isn't rigid and only suits a very narrow thinking.
 
 

 
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