Authority, Law, Punishment and Justice

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Authority may be described as the power to influence, control or judge. Authority can be gained in several ways, including consensus, inheritance and force. Religious believers would argue that God is the highest authority, as he is our creator, and that his omnipotence gives him total control. In secular ssocieties, authority may be exercised by a government, or by a political leader, sometimes a dictator, who believe that they have complete authority over the state, and in the case of dictators, can use force to maintain there authority. Examples of this tyrannical and often charismatic authority include Stalin, who ruthlessly dealt with anyone who opposed his government. Some religious societies are also ruled by governments, although their laws and created in close accordance to religious and moral laws.

Ruling authorities can impact upon the evolution of morality through the making of law, and these laws should not unreasonably infringe on the freedom of those it governs, unless, according to Mill's Harm Principle, it is to protect them from harm. It can therefore be argued that the restrictions on human freedoms as installed under a dictatorial state is wrong, as they fail to take into account human freedoms and values, including speech and free will to choose who we want to rule us.

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Law can be described as a system of guidelines put in place by the governing authority. Law cannot guarantee a just society, but it can support it, as it oders society, can act as an deterrant and can protect people. Kant,a deontologist, who

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