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Debates Forum

  1. 07 Oct '12 18:47
    Consider the following quotes from James Madison and Benjamin Franklin and from Charles De Montesquieu.

    First Madison's quote:

    "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

    Now from Ben Franklin:

    "The Constitution is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become corrupt as to need despotic Government being incapable of any other."

    Lastly from Montesquieu:

    "In a popular state there must be an additional spring, which is virtue. What I say is confirmed by the entire body of history and is quite in conformity with the nature of things. For it is clear that less virtue is needed in a monarchy, where the one who sees to the execution of the laws judges himself above the laws, than in a popular government, where the one who sees to the execution of the laws feels that he is subject to them himself and that he will bear their weight......But in a popular government when the laws have ceased to be executed, as this can come from the corruption of the republic, the state is already lost.........In despotic government, virtue is already lost."

    I have always been rubbed the wrong way when people say that I deserve the government I have, especially if I did not vote for them. However, I am unable to divorce myself from the society from which I live, so there is some truth to it. Nevertheless, is the role of government to enforce morality? If not, what laws, if any, are devoid of morality?
  2. 07 Oct '12 18:53
    Another question comes to mind. If government is merely a deterent for immorality, then what does an ever expanding government say about the morality of the populace? Can such morality be interpreted as deteriorating and needing such an expanding government?
  3. 07 Oct '12 19:35 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Consider the following quotes from James Madison and Benjamin Franklin and from Charles De Montesquieu.

    First Madison's quote:

    "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

    Now from Ben Franklin:

    "The Constitution is likely to be well le of government to enforce morality? If not, what laws, if any, are devoid of morality?
    Whatever rules the government enforces can be called the rules of its moral code, but the laws that are enforced need to be examined against some standard of what makes a rule a moral rule. It's possible that some rules have no moral weight but exist because conventions are needed. For example, the rule in some US towns allowing right turns on a red light after stopping seems not easily distinguishable in moral value from a rule that it is not allowed. Of course there can be a claimed general moral rule that it is immoral to break any law even those having no moral value.
  4. 07 Oct '12 19:36
    Originally posted by whodey
    Consider the following quotes from James Madison and Benjamin Franklin and from Charles De Montesquieu.

    First Madison's quote:

    "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

    Now from Ben Franklin:

    "The Constitution is likely to be well ...[text shortened]... le of government to enforce morality? If not, what laws, if any, are devoid of morality?
    However, I am unable to divorce myself from the society from which I live, so there is some truth to it. Nevertheless, is the role of government to enforce morality? If not, what laws, if any, are devoid of morality?

    What do you mean you are "unable to divorce yourself from the society in which [you] live"? Surely you can move elsewhere, to a society more to your liking?

    I'm not sure what you mean by "enforcing morality". One of the roles of government is to punish immoral behaviour such as theft. Clearly, without a government only a very rudimentary, communal system is possible where theft is punished.

    Another question comes to mind. If government is merely a deterent for immorality, then what does an ever expanding government say about the morality of the populace? Can such morality be interpreted as deteriorating and needing such an expanding government?

    Can you cite a historical example of an "ever expanding government"? As measured by what exactly?
  5. 07 Oct '12 20:35 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by JS357
    Whatever rules the government enforces can be called the rules of its moral code, but the laws that are enforced need to be examined against some standard of what makes a rule a moral rule. It's possible that some rules have no moral weight but exist because conventions are needed. For example, the rule in some US towns allowing right turns on a red lig ...[text shortened]... laimed general moral rule that it is immoral to break any law even those having no moral value.
    I would say that any law needs justification, even given the scenrio of the red light, because if no "good" were to come of it then it would be difficult to justify. Naturally, when confronted the legislator will provide some moral justification for a particular law, even though more than likely they have alterior motives.
  6. 07 Oct '12 20:37
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    [b]However, I am unable to divorce myself from the society from which I live, so there is some truth to it. Nevertheless, is the role of government to enforce morality? If not, what laws, if any, are devoid of morality?

    [/b]
    I suppose you could argue this, however, not everyone is free to do so. Clearly, there are those without the financial means to move and those that are held captive by the state. Nontheless, I would still be subject to the morality of the government of the state for which I moved.
  7. 07 Oct '12 20:41
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    I'm not sure what you mean by "enforcing morality". One of the roles of government is to punish immoral behaviour such as theft. Clearly, without a government only a very rudimentary, communal system is possible where theft is punished.

    b]
    Exactly. If there were no theft then no law would have been needed to prevent it. Therefore, the laws are a natural reflection of the morality of the people. In terms of enforcement, what I mean is how the state penalizes those that are "immoral". There are a wide range of ways to attempt this.

    It would then stand to reason that an expanding governmnet is a good indication that the morality of the people has flown south for the winter. In terms of expanding governments, the US is a prime example. It grows by leaps and bounds year after year.
  8. 07 Oct '12 21:30
    Originally posted by whodey
    Exactly. If there were no theft then no law would have been needed to prevent it. Therefore, the laws are a natural reflection of the morality of the people. In terms of enforcement, what I mean is how the state penalizes those that are "immoral". There are a wide range of ways to attempt this.

    It would then stand to reason that an expanding governmn ...[text shortened]... panding governments, the US is a prime example. It grows by leaps and bounds year after year.
    "It would then stand to reason that an expanding governmnet is a good indication that the morality of the people has flown south for the winter. In terms of expanding governments, the US is a prime example. It grows by leaps and bounds year after year."

    Or that the population had become overly moral, obsessed with other people's lifestyle choices, thus demanding a government that curtails individual freedoms on the grounds that they represent immorality. For instance the 'Prohibition' laws of 1930s USA primarily brought to legislation by pressure from the 'Temperance Movement'.
  9. 07 Oct '12 21:46
    Originally posted by kevcvs57
    [b]"It would then stand to reason that an expanding governmnet is a good indication that the morality of the people has flown south for the winter. In terms of expanding governments, the US is a prime example. It grows by leaps and bounds year after year."

    Or that the population had become overly moral, obsessed with other people's lifestyle choices, ...[text shortened]... of 1930s USA primarily brought to legislation by pressure from the 'Temperance Movement'.[/b]
    I can buy that. Today's morality revolves around health. You have to have universal health care, which is very expensive. It is therefore the government's job to tell people what they can and cannot eat.

    First you have the growth of government in the form of healthcare. Second you have the growth of government in the form of micromanaging the lives of its subjects. The politically elites like to call it ruling.
  10. 07 Oct '12 21:56
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I can buy that. Today's morality revolves around health. You have to have universal health care, which is very expensive. It is therefore the government's job to tell people what they can and cannot eat.

    First you have the growth of government in the form of healthcare. Second you have the growth of government in the form of micromanaging the lives of its subjects. The politically elites like to call it ruling.
    I suppose if you wanted to build a perfect society a consensus on what morality is would to be the foundation stone.
  11. 07 Oct '12 22:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I can buy that. Today's morality revolves around health. You have to have universal health care, which is very expensive. It is therefore the government's job to tell people what they can and cannot eat.

    First you have the growth of government in the form of healthcare. Second you have the growth of government in the form of micromanaging the lives of its subjects. The politically elites like to call it ruling.
    Indeed. People will scoff at you when you try to impose morality they do not agree with by saying you cannot legislate morality, and in the same breath support legislating morality that they agree with.

    As a rule of thumb, I favor only prohibiting people who directly attack another such as murder or theft. Speaking of theft, it is funny how supporters of Obamacare can never wrap their minds around stealing from future generations to impose it upon us. I would actually not have a problem iwth it if it were fiscally sound. It would be like me taking out massive loans that I knew I could never pay back to give to the poor.

    I take that back, I have a big problem with corporate America determining my tax rate.
  12. 08 Oct '12 00:18
    Originally posted by whodey
    I would say that any law needs justification, even given the scenrio of the red light, because if no "good" were to come of it then it would be difficult to justify. Naturally, when confronted the legislator will provide some moral justification for a particular law, even though more than likely they have alterior motives.
    That's a good point. A noncontroversial example like always driving on the right (or left) side of a two way street is justified by the smooth flow of traffic and reduction of the risk of harm and cost to others. So "good" laws may express a way that is decided by the government, to achieve an agreed public good. The extremist may bristle at the idea that he will be punished if he drives north in the southbound lanes of a freeway, but that's the deal if he wants to drive.
  13. 08 Oct '12 00:19
    Originally posted by kevcvs57
    I suppose if you wanted to build a perfect society a consensus on what morality is would to be the foundation stone.
    And so I predict there will be no perfect society in this cycle of existence.
  14. 08 Oct '12 00:38
    Originally posted by whodey
    Another question comes to mind. If government is merely a deterent for immorality, then what does an ever expanding government say about the morality of the populace? Can such morality be interpreted as deteriorating and needing such an expanding government?
    The only part of government that would need to upsize is the law enforcement and court systems if the populace started breaking laws at a higher rate. You know full well that the expanding government as we see today has nothing to do with that. The immorality of government within itself is driving this because the laws have ceased to be executed. The Logan Act is a good example of this.
  15. 08 Oct '12 00:44
    Originally posted by joe beyser
    The only part of government that would need to upsize is the law enforcement and court systems if the populace started breaking laws at a higher rate. You know full well that the expanding government as we see today has nothing to do with that. The immorality of government within itself is driving this because the laws have ceased to be executed. The Logan Act is a good example of this.
    The Logan act was passed in 1799. If it is an example of "the immorality of government in itself", the immorality was practically built-in to the US govt.

    It doesn't cover actions by govt, it deals with actions by non-govt persons. Please explain your view.