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Morality and criminal law Free essay! Download now

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Morality and criminal law

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1400 | Submitted: 13-Feb-2005
Spelling accuracy: N/A | Number of pages: | Filetype: Word .doc


“Morality and criminal law are inherently connected. It would not be possible to separate them even if this were thought to be a good idea in principle.”



When laws were first developed, only the most extreme acts such as murder or rape were considered to be criminal and the link between law and morality was clear to see. As the years have progressed, laws have become more complex and the link slightly blurred. Whilst most people would agree that murder is morally wrong and should be illegal, a much smaller percentage of people would consider parking on a yellow line to be immoral, despite being illegal. Further, certain acts, such as homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults in private, may be considered by some to be immoral but are, nevertheless, not illegal.

Strict legal rules have a further difficulty if attempting to limit their scope entirely to moral beliefs. Language is an imprecise tool and therefore, when legislation is drafted, it is possible that a broad approach to defining the crime will not only encourage desired behaviour but may also encourage undesirable behaviour. Conversely, narrow definitions can allow people to follow the letter of the law whilst entirely avoiding the intent of the legislation. Therefore, to attempt to legislate in a way that ensures moral behaviour, even if that were the theoretical aim and that one set of common morals could be decided upon, legislation would be impossible.

It is this grey area that presents the problem of linking law and morality, both in theory and in practice. Simply because everyone might agree that certain behaviour is wrong, does not automatically make that behaviour illegal.

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