Law and Morals

- Different views concerning law and morals by theorists

- influenced by legal reforms

- areas of coincidence and divergance 

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  • Created by: georgina
  • Created on: 22-06-11 19:35

Law and Morals


Law - Sir John Salmond regarded morals as - 'a body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice'.

- breach will result in prision

- in civil law the wrongdoer will compensate the victim

- compliance of the public is immediate when an Act is passed

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- Morals - Phil Harris - 'a set of beliefs, values, principles and standard conduct of     behaviour'

- to intergrate morals in ones value system is voluntary, however there may be pressure socially to comply with morals.

- morals vary among individuals

- for example homosexuality

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- law and morals are like two intersecting circles. 

- the intersection is the area of coincidence

- outside the intersection is the area of divergence

- ten commandments - coincidence - murder and theft.

- judicial reforms have been influenced by morals - R v R

- legislative reforms reflect the publics moral values at the time - homosexuality - legalised by the Sexual Offences Act 1969.

- Law may influence morals - for example discrimination act that targets sex, age and race. 

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- there is a pluralistic society 

- in which the judiciary had to consider different moral positions in Re A 2000

- Hart - Devlin debate

- Hart - Mill - individual liberty

- why should the minority have to conform to the will of the majority? immoral

- influenced legislative reforms - Divorce Reform Act 1969

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Devlin - Stephen approach - the loosening moral bonds will lead to disintergration of society

- shown in judicial legistion - R v Brown took their approach 

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- Broad overlap with law and morals 

- both impose a certain standard of conduct 

- Harris states that laws are found side by side with moral codes.  

- areas of divergence

- tobacco and alcohol - cannibis illegal? 

- moral duty to help people in danger not reinforced by legislation. 

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Natural law theorists 

Aristole - the law of nature constitued the natural law 

Aquinas - the natural law is the divine law. 


Law should be valid, whether good or bad.

- Fuller and Hart - hart positivist approach (nazi) 

-Fuller - should not be valid. 

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