Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Legislation is a moral business

Previously I posted a piece on the police force and its moral business.

Here is one on the moral nature of legislation written by Micah Watson, the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Affairs at the James Madison Program at Princeton University, and the Director of the Center for Politics & Religion at Union University.

He wrote that, "...every law and regulation that is proposed, passed, and enforced has inherent in it some idea of the good that it seeks to promote or preserve. Indeed, no governing authority can in any way be understood to be morally neutral. Those who think such a chimerical understanding is possible could hardly be more wrong. For, in fact, the opposite is true: You cannot not legislate morality." (Emphasis original)

Another good point:
"What is the law for? The answer at some point will include a conception of what is good for the community in which the law holds. The inversion of the question makes the point even more clearly. What would provide a rationale for a law or governmental action apart from a moral purpose?

The “good” here in question is not merely the product of passing fads or idiosyncratic preferences. When something is wrong, it is not wrong merely because it offends someone’s personal taste. The governing authority’s power to pass and enforce laws takes account of the beastly side of human nature while holding that some wrongs are so fundamental that they demand a robust and coercive response. If there are truly deeds that are gravely morally wrong, then it follows that there must be an authority established to command that such deeds be avoided and to punish the transgressors who commit them."

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