Laws without morals?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Utopia : One Thread
Well, in case anyone is curious, I have decided to attend the University of Pennsylvania for medical school next year. Why's this on the message board? Well, I was looking at Penn's motto, Leges sine moribus vanae. For those of you who don't know Latin (i.e. who aren't educated people ;-)) that means "Laws without morals are useless." It comes from the longer quotation by Horace, "Quid leges sine moribus vanae proficiunt?"
What do you guys think about this? I think it ties in to the idea of legislation in general. This is something that I had to think hard about in writing my utopia. The idealist in me says that we shouldn't need rules to ensure that people are treated equally, etc. However, the realist in me created a society that approached socialism.
What is your take on this motto? Is it something that you would want to live by?
-- Anonymous, May 02, 2000
When I hear the phrase "Laws without morals are useless", I think about people who hide behind the mantra "I'm not concerned with what's right or wrong. What's the law?"
It really frightens me that people can say such things and mean it. It means we've created a disconnect between laws and a certain morality. There should be a vigorous debate over what morality laws should enforce (i.e. traditional values vs. mere "do no harm"), but what is the purpose of law if it's not enforcing some morality?
It's funny that Alexa said the realist in her went for socialism, considering the realist in me (and he's such an annoying jerk) says socialism's impossible.
But would we need rules to ensure people are treated equally? 'Fraid so. People are selfish by nature. Not even self-interested (which might cause them to choose socialism out of the realization that everybody is better off if we all work together), but selfish (which causes people to want more than the other). Two solutions to this: 1) rules that enforce equality, or 2) an entire society centered around equality. One that would "condtion" people (I hate that phrase) to do right, or at least encourage them to do so.
-- Anonymous, May 03, 2000