Why Laws Are Important
The 3 Reason why laws are important:
- Laws lessen uncertainty
- Laws lessen stasis
- Laws lessen inefficiency
Laws Are Important For Social Uncertainty
A society without laws would have no way to solve the social issues which arrive within their collective arrangement. That is because such a society would neither have a legislative branch nor a judiciary branch.
The purpose of legislation is to either restrict or promote a set of habits within society. We accept an official body to determine our standards of acceptability. As a result, we have a sovereign body or a set of rules to appeal to, of which can manifest in either procedural, remedial, or protective regulations. This allows for us to assign legally ordained interpreters of the law, known as judges and lawyers.
The purpose of the judiciary is to interpret law, establish law (rarely), and resolve issues amongst citizenry, especially in cases which require an administration of punishment or allocation of resources. Typically a judicial system would hold trial and appellate courts – learn more here: (The Different Types of Courts).
So, life without laws would have a great deal of uncertainty around social issues. The law would not be around to authoritatively end contentious issues which arise from the relativity of social customs.
What are relative social norms? Well, relativism is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as:
“the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them”.
What this means, with respect to the problem of uncertainty, is that there are no objective standards to reference when it comes to settling social issues. Of course, within a group of people, there are agreed upon norms; however, in large societies, the beliefs are quite diverse.
For example, within America, there are variations in religiosity by region: non-religious views are highest in Vermont (34%), while lowest in Alabama (6%).
With the current legal system, there are both state and federal laws, but we all have a set of rules which we have to abide by: i.e., constitution. Albeit, the interpretation of law does not escape the problem of relativism entirely, but we at least have some rigidity and rule-based delegation of power, as well as a universal set of beliefs, to solve problems.
But when we rely on the customs of the society, then there is no mechanism readily available for the resolution of problems, and there is likewise no case law to ensure a quick resolution for when the problem comes about again; because cases can be cited as a means to use the rulings of previous judges to determine the case at hand.
The laws which confer powers to designated individuals, such as the constitution, allow for a resolution to occur amongst those who have conflicts which stem from custom.
How Laws Progress Society: Stasis
In a community which relies upon nothing more than mere custom, a change of any drastic sort would be an impossible feat. Certainly, some changes could slowly occur, as such changes do occur naturally: i.e., sociolinguistic variation can occur within one generation of a family. This form of change would be a good example of a rapid cultural change.
However, the core social roles, the core moral beliefs, and the rules of behaviour are not only passed along to the younger generations in near verbatim fashion, but are also incredibly difficult to change. For instance, affluence has always been viewed positively throughout European culture, yet some east-asian cultures view materialism in a far less favourable light. Since that is the case, it seems that the human nature argument, that is, the argument which supposes humans instinctively view affluence as a positive thing, will not help us here. Instead, the rigidity of cultural beliefs as they are passed between generations seems to do well in explaining such rigid beliefs over time.
And furthermore, it is tempting for us to simply say, “we shall propose some mechanism to change the cultural beliefs of the society, we do not need a law to change social customs”; but in our supposing of such a mechanism, we have created a law. We would have produced either a bill or doctrine to guide human behaviour. In this regard, the central planning of culture is a function of law: social order.
So, the laws are important for the progress of society. The laws of society progress society by solving the problem of stasis; when a social-ill arises, we can bring it to the attention of the courts, who have been delegated the responsibility of maintaining social order. We would not have to wait for cultural beliefs to change.
The Rule Of Law Lessens Inefficiency
The Inefficiencies which stem from unorganized groups, supposing we live in a society without rules, when dealing with those who are anti-social, violent, and disregard social customs are self-evident. Since the group does not have law, and, for whatever reason, does not want to create social roles and legislation which create delegated officials to determine sanctions, they would have to wait until an occurrence happened and then respond.
A legal system pre-emptively supposes that societies come with a certain level of disorder, of which justifies the existence of the system. However, because the lawless society seeks to avoid sovereigns of any sort, as well as legislation of any sort, they will always have to scramble to punish those who disrupt their society. And since they cannot develop case law, no amount of experience will lead to quicker determinations; because, if they did rely on previous rulings to determine punishment, then they would have a legal system.