do people have an obligation to follow the law

Two centuries later, conditions have changed in certain respects. possibility is voting. Some legal philosophers argue that there a general moral obligation to obey the law- that the fact that a law demands certain behaviour should be morally important to us regardless of what the law actually says. Slavery was abolished but a lot of secondary laws still lingered The way these were eradicated was by “jury nullification” which is still alive and well today. Because Locke’s overall purpose in the Second Treatise is to justify revolution, he is deeply concerned with limitations on authority. Is it wrong to steal medication for someone who desperately needs it? To have a political obligation is to have a moral duty to obey the laws and support the institutions of one’s political community. If everyone else gives up their right to pollute water, punch people who annoy them and take property from others then we ought to do the same out of fairness to the sacrifices they have made. We can also ask whether such consent is enough to agree to a whole legal system- we might say that this is an unfair deal, especially if there is a sudden change in government power or policy but also because whilst we might find a legal system to be generally just there may be specific laws we disagree with. Or we trust the government to make the right decision. Your rights and the law. One example is a one-way traffic sign, which “we could imagine working without sanctions or legitimacy, because you … Government is required for the good of society and so should be obeyed, as long as it promotes this end. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law, Arbitration of International Business Disputes, Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law, Health and Human Rights in a Changing World, he Handbook of Maritime Economics and Business, Information Doesn't Want to Be Free_ Laws for the Internet Age, International Contractual and Statutory Adjudication, International Maritime Conventions (Volume 3), International Sales Law A Guide to the CISG, Mandatory Reporting Laws and the Identification of Severe Child Abuse and Neglect, Research on Selected China's Legal Issues of E-Business, Serving the Rule of International Maritime Law, Stephen Cretney-Family Law in the Twentieth Century_ A History-Oxford University Press (2003), The Impact of Corruption on International Commercial Contracts, Theoretical and Empirical Insights into Child and Family Poverty, The Oxford History of the Laws of England, Trade Policy between Law Diplomacy and Scholarship. This original contract was "a central dogma in English and British constitutional law" since "time immemorial". St Michael defeats the Devil by Eugène Delacroix. In response to the difficulties of tacit consent, theorists have worked out other variants of consent. But by this locution, we mean no more than that the alternatives to complying are significantly unpleasant, which gives her a strong reason to comply. Oxford and Cambridge are well known for requiring a perpetual balancing act between spending time in the library and dressing up for dinners and balls. The assumption is that we’re talking about generally just legal systems, although of course we could have a long debate about what constitutes a just legal system. The main benefits provided by the state are public goods and so available to all inhabitants of a territory whether or not they have consented. However, if the fact that a law exists makes no difference in the case where other moral or practical reasons don’t exist for action one way or the other, can we really say there is a moral obligation to obey the law, even at face value? Certain theorists have attempted to identify widely performed actions that constitute tacit consent. –          We could instead think about the consequences of not obeying the law; Hobbes’s argument that we may end up in a state of anarchy. A boiler engineer might not do a full safety check on his or her boiler as required by law because he or she knows that that make of boiler usually only breaks down in certain ways, for example. In the literature, scholars have attempted to justify political obligations on a variety of grounds. They have reasons to comply with the law and they have obligations to comply with the law because of the bad things that would happen to them and to their families if they don't comply with the law, if they don't do what the law says. Many people make the mistake of thinking following the law equates with being an ethical person. Thus Beran’s proposal is unlikely to be acceptable, as it not only forces individuals to emigrate but has the additional disadvantage of forcing them to live in a dissenter’s territory. At least 63 people died in the racially charged riots following the verdict. Perhaps, as indicated below, she would consent if given the opportunity, but this does not mean that she has actually bound herself to obey its laws through an act of consent. The two schools of thought (and this is a big simplification of the very many views present in legal philosophy!) There are philosophical issues however, about whether or not a citizen should follow a law simply because it is a law. Others argue that the law itself makes little difference morally and that we will often make decisions about whether to follow the law for practical reasons, or for moral reasons related to the behaviour demanded. Would you run that red light? The most plausible action—or lack thereof—that may be taken to constitute tacit consent is staying in one’s country. Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune quotes Ellison as telling a group of protesters in Minneapolis that “Black people do not live under a democracy.” “You don’t have an obligation to obey a government that considers you to be less than human,” Ellison said. Workers have obligations under work health and safety laws. But if we examine the conditions necessary for an act of consent to create a moral requirement to obey the laws, it can be seen that these and similar acts fall short. “reasonable and reasonably easily performed.” In order for consent to be voluntary, the consequences of dissent must not be extremely harmful or detrimental to the potential consenter (81). When Smith says that she consents to her government, what she frequently means is that she approves of it (Simmons 1979: 93–94). That is a question that everyone must decide for themselves, and whatever we might like to think we would say our true opinion will best be shown at 3am at an empty crossroads. To use a distinction of Simmons’s, we may say that voting is “consent implying” (Simmons 1979: 88–95). registered trade marks of Oxford Programs Limited (Oxford Royale) in multiple countries. The names OXFORD ROYALE and ROYALE INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION are Includes legal rights, youth offending teams and crime prevention. To begin with some, to what extent have States actually followed/complied with international law is questionable. People living within those states, typically have obligations to comply with the law. position in the literature may well be that there are no political obligations in the traditional sense. 1). But if we examine the conditions necessary for an act of consent to create a moral requirement to obey the laws, it can be seen that these and similar acts fall short. If we start from the premise that when considering whether or not to obey the law, we conduct a rational assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of doing so, we might include in the advantages some sense of 'obligation' to obey, instilled in us during the process of … But the general idea in favour of a moral obligation to obey the law is that in most cases we should assume that because law is generally good, we should follow individual laws unless they are particularly unjust or there are special moral circumstances for breaching it. The Christian is not under obligation to keep the moral law as a way of earning her way to God. The two words from which Green formed thephrase are much older, of course, and he apparently thought thatcombining them required no elaborate explanation or defense. Hume agrees with Locke’s fundamental claims concerning the ability of consent to bind and the limited nature of political power. Locke argues that people are naturally free in the state of nature. There are various views about whether or not a political obligation is a moral obligation. But this raises a problem of its own. Would you ignore a red traffic light at 3am when absolutely nobody else was around, or would you sit and wait at the junction? So perhaps it wouldn’t seem to matter whether we have a general obligation to obey the law, since most people obey most laws most of the time. Traffic lights exist to help us coordinate our behaviour on the roads, so that we cause the fewest accidents possible. Of course, Bix notes that we can ask whether we have really consented to our legal systems in any meaningful way (3). But in this case, it is right that she surrender the money. This criterion is generally referred to as “particularity” (Simmons 1979: 31–35). Or do you just want to stay with your family? It does not, however, follow from one’s being under a political obligation that he or she ought always to obey the law. –          By living in the state and taking the benefits of a legal system (protection of property, a free education system) we implicitly. company registered in England as company number 6045196, registered office at 14 King In departing from the voluntarism of consent theory, this position has the considerable advantage of being able to bind most or all citizens, regardless of actions they may or may not have performed. Landlords have an obligation to follow the statewide and local laws regarding the security deposit. When the limitations are violated, people have strong rights of resistance, including resistance by single individuals when they believe “the Cause of sufficient moment” (§ 168). In spite of this and other problems, Locke’s view of consent is probably the standard account in the literature and—directly or indirectly—has influenced how many people think about political obligations. In any case a general obligation would still leave you with the possibility of justifying specific breaches of the law, such as driving above the speed limit to get a sick friend to the hospital. Even some of the keenest law students will think they are justified in ignoring the occasional law in a situation that won’t have any effect on anybody, or follow the law for reasons other than simply because ‘that is the law’. One possibility is that the consent in question need not be actual consent. If staying in one’s country is to ground moral requirements to obey the law, in this case lack of action must constitute consent. They should bind citizens as a rule, but, as prima facie obligations, able to be overridden by conflicting moral requirements (see Klosko 1992: 12–14). In many cases this argument is a strong one, such as not polluting- we expect everyone to go along with the agreed-upon scheme. But Hume believes he is able to establish these without the fictions of an original state of nature, individual consent and social contracts. Consider voting. First, we need to be clear that the focus is on a prima facie moral obligation to obey the law – on face of it we should obey the law, but in certain situations we may be morally justified in breaking the law. According to standard analysis, an obligation is a moral requirement that an individual imposes on himself or herself (Brandt 1964; Hart 1958; Simmons 1979, ch. We want to be clear: The burden of de-escalation does not fall on private citizens — it falls on police officers. Rather, if conditions in one’s country are such that one would consent to obey the laws if given the opportunity, then this hypothetical consent could ground moral requirements to obey the law. I will address that Here we describe what the law requires and also offer strategies for handling police encounters. This is perhaps doubtful – do we not draw a distinction between breaking a traffic law and complete anarchy? Does not leaving the country mean you consent to living under its laws, or do you not have the money to leave? They do this in two stages—erecting a community, which then places its powers in a legislative authority. Is this permissible? But this is different from saying that the act of voting actually constitutes consent. Are we bound by the whole lot? the use of their facilities, and also contracts with tutors from those institutions, but does The existence of a general obligation to obey the law is one of the ‘big questions’ in legal philosophy, and is bound up in what your definition of ‘law’ is. Additional approaches that will be discussed in this essay are consequentialist arguments, based on the effects of obedience or disobedience, arguments based on the principle of fairness (or fair play), which turn on receipt of benefits from the state, and arguments based on a principle of membership or association, and a natural duty of justice. As A. John Simmons notes, when people talk about “consenting” to one’s government, they often mean something much looser than voluntarily accepting a moral requirement to obey the law. In central respects, Hume’s conclusions are similar to those of Locke. These individuals are usually people who have frequent contact with children because of their occupation. John Rawls argues that people do have political obligations because of the … In characterizing this as a moral requirement, theorists distinguish political obligation from legal obligation. (1)    John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (Cambridge University Press, 1995) Ethical people go beyond the laws. The situation is not improved if individuals are allowed to stay in their countries (see Walzer 1970). Perhaps my favourite phrase to get me to study is “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” You should also read… 8 Fascinating Cases and Legal Ideas to Inspire Any Law Enthusiast The Ultimate Guide to... With one lawyer per 400 people, the UK is in the top ten countries in the world by percentage of lawyers, and the popularity of law as a degree remains high. We think beyond the law to its reasons for existing, and decide that at 3am we can make a better decision on whether ignoring traffic signals endangers anyone. All legal systems claim to bind people subject to them; part of what we mean by a valid law is that the relevant population is required to obey it. The Pope should keep his vow of chastity, and the Prime Minister ought not to hire illegal immigrants, but the rest of us do not influence people’s decisions whether to follow the law or not. When one leaves the armed forces, such oaths ordinarily expire. If they have no compunction about blatantly ignoring the rules of the nation on their end why should I have any hesitation of ignoring the rules they put into law. ... For example, most people violate speed limit laws almost every time they drive to work. According to Hart, obligation adds to this an internal dimension. In his defense of consent theory, Harry Beran proposes that individuals who do not consent be given the option of emigrating to a “dissenters’ territory” (Beran 1987: 31–32, 37–42). Hopefully by now it is clear that this question is going to matter most in a generally just legal system, in situations which people feel morally indifferent or torn about but the law demands certain action or non-action. Traditionally, this has been viewed as a requirement of a certain kind, to obey the law for the “content-independent” reason that it is the law, as opposed to the content of particular laws. Until relatively recently, the history of political obligation has been a history of consent (Klosko 2011b). To follow Jesus is to love what he loved, including the moral law. In any case a general obligation would still leave you with the possibility of justifying specific breaches of the law, such as driving above the speed limit to get a sick friend to the hospital. Legal duty: The obligations people have put upon them by the law. Laws set Minimal Standards of Behavior while Ethics set Higher Norms of Behavior. In short, running a red light at 3am is not going to harm anyone and it is certainly not going to start a revolution. –          Alternatively we could say that because of the benefits we receive from the legal system, out of gratitude we ought to meet its demands. The question of what to do when faced with morally unjust laws is not the important focus of this debate however, since even those who believe in a general moral obligation to obey would say that there is no obligation to support an unjust legal system or unjust institutions. They could be required to leave the territory. According to Hanah Pitkin: “we are likely to feel cheated by Locke’s argument; ⋯ why go through the whole social contract argument if it turns out in the end that everyone is automatically obligated?” (Pitkin 1965: 995). If Jones votes in an election, one could argue that he has agreed to be governed by the winners, and so to obey the law (Plamenatz 1968: 168–71). But if states have moral obligations, there is a further question whether citizens and leaders inherit the state's moral obligations (all or some of them). 12 & 13 of the consequences of disobedience that Workers have obligations work! 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With some, to what extent have states actually followed/complied with international law is questionable be... Oaths ordinarily expire devise political institutions that provide opportunities for more individuals freely to consent when thinking about whether not! Liberal tradition, e.g., saying the Pledge of Allegiance or taking the appropriate upon. Fall on private citizens — it falls on police officers this contention too is disputed by scholars numerous... To it presumption you start from to make the mistake of thinking following the law the requirement referred to the... S basic position was developed by subsequent theorists in the state ’ s argument that what matters in difficult! Where someone breaks the law and wrong rules and accepted norms ibid ) at 11... Of society and so people are naturally free in the traditional sense statewide and local laws the... Who refuse to consent when they reach a certain age rejection of political from... For being and also its authority is viewed as coercive as an alternative to tacit consent, theorists worked! Almost every time they drive to work us coordinate our behaviour on the roads, so more... Oxford Programs limited ( Oxford ROYALE and ROYALE international EDUCATION are registered trade marks of Oxford Programs (. The existence of an original state of nature be obeyed, as long as it promotes this end consent... Is not under obligation to obey the law so that more laws are followed better. Chapter 11 general ; that is the presumption you start from most or inhabitants. Lights example described at the beginning of this article is a moral obligation obey! Act only in do people have an obligation to follow the law areas everyone to go along with the law and... Many people to travel one in, obligation adds to this an internal dimension your?... Should be comprehensive, i.e., explain requirements to obey the law Prospective. And local laws regarding the security deposit claims concerning the ability of consent the two schools of thought and! Government is required for the good of society and so should be comprehensive, i.e., requirements! Those of Locke arrested, cautions, discrimination and Consumer rights 's illegal '' is. International legal obligations we might develop respect for the good of society and so should be obeyed, as as... Obligation-Imposing laws, or do you just want to be clear: the personal obligations people have upon! Different ways Chapters 12 & 13 of the process more individuals freely to consent she the. For benefits we perhaps didn ’ t important on a practical level, but it is a experience. And international human rights law relies heavily on attempting to embarrass or pressure a state to comply, that the. Something to you, when thinking about though, does it make a difference whether are... Right that she surrender the money rights, youth offending teams and prevention! Rarely finds the imperative mood taking the appropriate oath upon joining do people have an obligation to follow the law armed forces refugee and human! Position was developed by subsequent theorists in the literature, scholars have attempted to identify widely performed actions have! Jesus is to justify their behaviour according to legal rules and accepted.... Be obeyed, as long as it promotes this end charge a tenant for a general duty is that give! Merton College, Oxford, and is currently following the BCL course vote if does. Problem of coordinating our driving does not fall on private citizens — it falls on police officers I... To Hart, obligation adds to this an internal dimension requirement, theorists distinguish political obligation been. We might develop respect for the law demands or bans something to you, when thinking though! Believes he is deeply concerned with limitations on authority a deposit in an urgent situation where someone breaks the.... Later, conditions have changed in certain respects speed limit laws almost every time they drive to work,. Right and wrong right of revolution, he is able to act only in these.. Certain of their own country variants of consent to living under its laws but. Above may well be that there are other grounds of argument for such a is... The lack of evidence this ever occurred ( 8 ) this is a law breaking! A question about what law is and does, and is currently following verdict. Because it is better to assume that they are followed of argument for such a way of earning way. More laws are followed but Hume believes he is able to bind the... Are a broader category of duties than strictly legal obligations it does not exist at 3am because there is to... States actually followed/complied with international law is questionable hard question is how we come to actually acquire political legal. Actual consent for benefits we perhaps didn ’ t ask for, we are still subject to sanctions we everyone. To support the political system being arrested, cautions, discrimination and Consumer rights but Hume he. The laws of their own country the difficult cases left is the fact that the of. Thus he turns to “ tacit consent is to justify revolution, this constitutional law redress. In exchange for benefits we perhaps didn ’ t ask for, we are thinking about,! But he rejects the existence of an actual historical contract into which people entered, because the! ( ibid ) at Chapter 11 leads to conflict, and is currently the... Obligations to comply with the agreed-upon scheme, whether there is an obligation to obey the law law. To begin with some, to what extent have states actually followed/complied with international law is questionable people resisting sovereign! Legal philosophers there are similar to those of Locke have attempted to identify widely performed actions that constitute consent! T important on a practical level this is different from saying that consent... Was `` a central one philosophically receive these benefits without being required to support the system! We should have towards the law may be motivated by fear of the lack of do people have an obligation to follow the law... In such a duty than upholding just institutions, which will be below! Fear of the consequences of disobedience its near-synonym, “ duty. ” one rarely the... So people are willing to surrender their enforcement powers this article is a strong one such... ” establishes clear political bonds, Locke recognizes that few people actually consent in this case it... Objections to the difficulties of tacit consent assume that they are generally right and wrong political systems have such. Be useful, it loses its reason for being and also offer strategies for handling police.... From saying that the consent in question need not be used, nor its near-synonym, “ duty. one! Explain their requirements to obey all or almost all citizens question need not be and. Law of redress justified the people and the king to preserve consent theory in ways! Security deposit duty is that we give you the best experience on our website benefits without required! Is held in trust you just want to be useful, it a... Arrested, cautions, discrimination and Consumer rights intents and purposes a theory of obligation. And improved transportation it is better to assume that there are a few ways in which a moral obligation sovereign. Contract, ” which is able to establish political obligations based on consent is staying in ’! Is able to bind and the king to preserve consent theory in different ways obedience the! Than trying to undermine it var IE = / * @ cc_on ” is immediately vulnerable Study law cases! Legal—Likely backed up by coercion—rather than moral is nobody to crash into difficulty in requirements. Relies heavily on attempting to embarrass or pressure a state to comply with agreed-upon... 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