In this essay I intend to discuss the relationship between law and morality through the perspectives of legal philosophers, I will provide a brief explanation of law, and what does law intend to achieve in the society. When discussing the relationship between law and morality I will consider the distinction between the theory of natural law and legal positivism and how these two theories influence each other and whether there is a legal or moral duty for the society to obey the law.
Legal philosophers have tried to provide a brief explanation for the meaning of law; however their definitions have been vague and ambiguous. John Austin explained law as ‘something which is man-made and separate from morality and justice, furthermore provided that law is compiled of series of commands of a political sovereignty and impose sanction on those who disobey them.’ Austin definition is one sided in a sense that it accommodate criminal law and exclude other forms of law. On the other hand the school of natural lawyers argues that law comes from the higher being and human laws must conform to higher standard of morality. Natural lawyers provide that law is valid if it has a certain moral content. We can explain law as set of rules that regulate human conduct and relationship between state and it also provide the manner in which state powers are constrained and exercised, However having said that we realise that law is normative and prescriptive; laws are enacted to facilitate different things in the society.
Law intends to create a stable society which guarantees members of the society protection and allow them to engage in matters that really affect them, these is achieved through the voluntary transfer of rights to the leaders who are entrusted with protection and survival of the general society, this doctrine is called social contract. . The book called Law and Reason , provides that in ‘order to create stable consensus concerning practical matters, one should have disposition to arrange one’s practical opinion into a coherent systems and follow the rules of rational discourse.’ Coherent systems provide set of rules that regulate conducts that law forbids and procedures to achieve certain things. Law also provide facilities for people to make their own arrangements, law protect and facilitate different arrangements between people, and law settles disputes about what law is and whether a certain conduct conflicts with legal rules. It aims to create laws that are predictable, that are able to be easily analysed and understandable by the general society.
Morality is what the society regard as right and wrong which is highly subjective, some legal philosophers believe that there is a certain moral standard which human laws must contain. Chapter 2 in The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 which is the Bill of Rights contains moral values which the country is based. Section 1 of the Constitution provides that South Africa is an...