Morals versus laws
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05-08-2017, 08:35 AM
Morals versus laws
I wanted to discuss the differences between morals and laws, because I've heard a lot of people (mostly religious) conflate the two. In general terms:

Laws dictate actions that will be taken in certain situations. This could be a penalty for acting a certain way, or a benefit someone is entitled to in a certain situation. Either way, there are direct consequences for the way people act, according to these laws. These consequences are generally enforced by some sort of authority, which may be elected by the people, or may rule by force.

There are no set consequences just for acting either morally or immorally, whatever standard is being applied. It is instead a set of guidelines, saying how a person should act. You could say that the conscience acts as the authority, and punishes or rewards a person internally for their actions. So morals are like laws people apply to themselves.

These two are most often conflated when it comes to a religious person describing what morality means to them. If "morality" involves God taking action based on how you act, then this is in fact a set of laws. God either rewards certain behaviours, punishes others, or both. Any actual morality would only apply to actions that God doesn't take into account when applying these consequences.

A lot of religious people I've talked to say that morality is what God wants you to do, and what is best for our wellbeing. But if they are one and the same, then there is no room for morality. You are being judged on everything you do, and action will be taken accordingly. You are never doing something just because it's what you feel you should do. I think the inability to separate the two gives away the totalitarian mindset of living under this God figure, and shows what a poisonous effect it can have on peoples' ability to think about morality for themselves. It gives rise to the ludicrous soundbyte, "There is no morality without God". Ironically the opposite is true, according to the beliefs such people profess.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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05-08-2017, 08:40 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
I see it as two plants grown from the same compost - the need for safety and security. Both impose rules, and they are pretty much the same rules, albeit the punishments vary greatly.

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05-08-2017, 09:01 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
Morality has evolved.

Laws are intelligently designed.

Smartass

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05-08-2017, 09:05 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
(05-08-2017 09:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  . . . Laws are intelligently designed. . . .

Yeah, right! Laughat

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05-08-2017, 09:07 AM (This post was last modified: 05-08-2017 09:14 AM by Rebecca Ripple.)
RE: Morals versus laws
Smile I love this point. You state the clear difference with such extraordinary accuracy, and so easily... more so than I explain just about anything so abstract and complex. Your points are well-made, and I agree completely. For there to be a god, a goddess or gods would very quickly make the very concept of morality impossible, and free will as well.

I always love to read and see what you think. Keep the awesomesauce coming, Roo! Big Grin

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05-08-2017, 09:28 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
(05-08-2017 09:07 AM)Rebecca Ripple Wrote:  Smile I love this point. You state the clear difference with such extraordinary accuracy, and so easily... more so than I explain just about anything so abstract and complex. Your points are well-made, and I agree completely. For there to be a god, a goddess or gods would very quickly make the very concept of morality impossible, and free will as well.

I always love to read and see what you think. Keep the awesomesauce coming, Roo! Big Grin

Thank you so much Becky Boo Big Grin I very much appreciate the feedback Smile

It seems the difference between me and such a religious person is that I would refuse to follow any laws a hypothetical God made if I considered them immoral, regardless of the supposed consequences. This is one of the reasons religion is irrelevant to me, whether there is any truth to their claims or not.

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05-08-2017, 09:32 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
(05-08-2017 09:05 AM)TSG Wrote:  
(05-08-2017 09:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  . . . Laws are intelligently designed. . . .

Yeah, right! Laughat

[Image: src.adapt.960.high.PatriotAct.1382575368955.jpg]

Well, indeed. I was tempted to add that caveat but it would have needed a bigger bumper sticker.

Tongue

Even still, legal systems are also part of the evolutionary arms race... inhibit --> circumnavigate --> inhibit --> circumnavigate --> wash, rinse, repeat.

Laws are formalised social contracts with various degrees of compliance requirements (should (should not) vs. shall (shall not)).

Morality, by contrast, is a system involving 4 processes: Events, Incidents, Problem and Change.
This requires an ethical baseline and a tolerance threshold (aka: a moral) and a bunch of other stuff which I've had a go at summarising here:

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05-08-2017, 10:28 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
(05-08-2017 09:05 AM)TSG Wrote:  
(05-08-2017 09:01 AM)DLJ Wrote:  . . . Laws are intelligently designed. . . .

Yeah, right! Laughat


Cool
Only to be fair, they all suc.
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06-08-2017, 11:26 PM
RE: Morals versus laws
(05-08-2017 09:32 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(05-08-2017 09:05 AM)TSG Wrote:  Yeah, right! Laughat

[Image: src.adapt.960.high.PatriotAct.1382575368955.jpg]

Well, indeed. I was tempted to add that caveat but it would have needed a bigger bumper sticker.

Tongue

Even still, legal systems are also part of the evolutionary arms race... inhibit --> circumnavigate --> inhibit --> circumnavigate --> wash, rinse, repeat.

Laws are formalised social contracts with various degrees of compliance requirements (should (should not) vs. shall (shall not)).

Morality, by contrast, is a system involving 4 processes: Events, Incidents, Problem and Change.
This requires an ethical baseline and a tolerance threshold (aka: a moral) and a bunch of other stuff which I've had a go at summarising here:

[Image: 11971fr.jpg]

Very interesting, thanks!

Morality can (and does) shift constantly at a personal and societal level, whereas a change in law requires a specific agreement, like you say. Often shifts in morality can be the driving force for changes in law. This is why it's so important to be continually evaluating discussing laws rather than just accepting the status quo. Of course, this isn't the case in dictatorships, where it doesn't much matter what society at large thinks of the morality of their laws.

I remembered I made a video a while back in response to a theist who was attempting to conflate these two, as per my OP here. So I'll share it here as it gives more thoughts on the matter. I never did receive a response back from this.




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07-08-2017, 08:57 AM
RE: Morals versus laws
I'm thinking we should start a TTA Philosophy Skype group.

Yes

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