There are a lot of religious people in this world, and if one were to ask them where their morals came from, they would say that it is based on their religion.
But the problem is that even "critical" morality can be wrong. The historyof moral philosophy is filled with quite analytical/critical theories anddiscussions that nevertheless turned out to be in need of amendment orabandonment as new insights were gained and in some cases as new distinctionswere invented or discovered. The issue is not whether moral ideas are critical,surface, conventional, socially accepted, religious, traditional or howeverinitiated; the issue is whether they are good principles or not. But discerningthat takes ongoing dialogue and judgment, not some replacement for thosethings, such as mere voting or appeal to formal or supposedly objectiverules, or even acceptance by prestigious law professors or publicationin influential law journals. Moral philosophy is difficult and it is anongoing precess as new ideas and distinctions come to light. Substitutingsomething easy for it is abandoning morality, not simplifying it. And itis important to keep that in mind, so that we do not have the mindset thatparticular laws, just because they have been promulgated and even upheldin court, or accepted by academia, are therefore deserving to be permanent,revered, authoritative (in a moral sense), deserving of obedience, or arein some sense always right.
This is at least the case in modern American society, where your “moral standing” depends ultimately on whether or not you conform to the laws outlined by the government.
Rulers that use something other than civil society to provide cohesion for their states are in practice a danger to their neighbors, and an even greater danger to their subjects. For this reason civil society is the only legitimate material from which a state may be made. A state based on something else is illegitimate. The neighbors of such states rightly and reasonably regard themselves as threatened, and so they should seek, and for the most part they have sought, to undermine, subvert, corrupt, and destroy such states, and to assassinate their rulers. History has shown that not only was Locke correct factually, he was also correct morally. Not only are states normally based on civil society, they should based on civil society.
[Law and morality - medical treatment - best interests of patient to allow to die - consent of court to be obtained first]
D, the hospital where S aged 24 was a patient. S was in a coma () following a drug overdose.
And what makes people voluntarily obey laws when they do is eitherthat they believe the law is in conformity with what is morally right (orif it is a procedural law, they believe it does not conflict with whatis right) and is just and beneficial, or they believe that the particularlaw at issue is not so bad, even if wrong, that it is justified to break,either because breaking it would cause more harm than not breaking it orbecause breaking it would risk undermining the general cultural respectfor law. But many morally good people will disobey laws they think arevery wrong, either in a form of civil disobedience, or in order to getaway with it (as in speeding on a long straight, flat, open road with notraffic, in the West, particularly when the speed limit was 55 mph), becausethey believe the law does not have moral authority then. And if the governmentpasses sufficiently many bad laws, or sufficiently egregious laws, it willlose obedience by rebellion or revolution, because citizens will believe(sometimes correctly) that the laws and the government are too immoralto have any authority that deserves their obedience.
It seems to me then that what gives law its authorityis its conformity to morality, in that correct laws need to be obeyed becausethey are fair, just, and beneficial in which they exist and apply. Insofar as the legalact is the right act, one should do the legal act just because it is theright act.
I believe that law could be morality-based rather than formal, and theonly problem with that is not that it would make law less objective, butthat it would make it appear more subjective or unreasonable becausetoo many people do not know how to resolve problems and (moral) disagreementsreasonably. Law only appears to be more objective when made by formal proceduresand majority votes because judges can hide behind legislatures when theymake rulings, and legislatures can hide behind majority votes and formalprocedures. Making law formal only hides its problems and subjectivity;it does not solve or eliminate them.
This is a statement of the ideal or of the goal. In any practical casepeople may disagree about what is tolerable or not, and that disagreementshould be worked through, in an attempt to resolve it, in a morally acceptableand reasonable way. I will not write here about how to deal with civildisobedience based on genuine disagreements of conscience, but presumablythere should be some reasonable and fair way to deal with such cases. Itshould also be understood that even where there are grounds for civil disobedience,there can be wrongful acts of civil disobedience, such as, in some cases,assassinating those who disagree with you over an issue that does not justifysuch murder.
Hence, while law need not and cannot be the same as morality (unlesslaws are written so as to require one "to do the morally right thing",in some cases voluntarily only and not by governmental intrusion or force),it ought not to conflict substantially with it. A law or system of lawsdoes not need to be the best, if, and only if, that is too difficult toinstantiate, but it should not be so wrong that it requires or permitsmorally wrong acts that are so bad or so unjust they ought not to be tolerableor acceptable. (See .)
The author examines the administrative law of democratic morality between the periods of 1800s and 1900s, with emphasis on the how democratic morality was used to bring about changes in the organizations....
I say that morality trumps law in that I think doing the morally rightact is always at least our prima facie obligation. And I hold that obeyingsome bad laws in some circumstances is a worse breach of morality and dutythan obeying them until they can be changed. And in those cases, the lawought not to be obeyed. A law, for example, that required you to take thelife of an innocent person ought not to be obeyed if there is not timeto change it first. That is not something you follow and then change afterward.
In such cases the morally right act, given the bad system that has growninto place, is different from the morally right act if there were no suchsystem to begin with and a society were trying to begin one. In the drivingcase, for example, even if you knew it would be far safer for everyoneto drive on the other side of the road, and even if you worked diligentlyto change the side of the road your country required drivers to use, itwould be madness, and morally wrong (because it endangered people unjustifiably),for you to simply begin to drive on the opposite side on your own. Norwould it likely be safe for the legislature to pass a law requiring anabrupt change on a certain date, if that does not allow time for changingroad signs to the other side of the road or doing any of the many otherthings that would be required to make the switch feasible. Or even if itmakes more sense to use the metric system than the English system of measurements,one cannot just switch to metrics overnight, because, flawed and difficultas the English system might be, it is the one most people in America andEngland know how to use. And it is the one for which recipes and otherkinds of directions are given, measuring devices calibrated, etc. Hence,the remedy for any bad law under which a somewhat complex system of operationhas arisen, should not be worse or more unfair than the law itself.