A law is a rule of conduct that tell us the appropriate behaviour or action in a specific circumstance. Law is usually established by a lawful authority. Another definition is that it is a body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority.
Distinguish between customs, rules, laws, values and ethics:
Customs: A custom is a practice or behaviour that has developed over a long period of time. It can develop into a tradition and in some societies becomes the basis of law. Customs are usually not written down.
Rules: Rules are principles or understood regulations which govern conduct within a particular activity or a particular organisation. Rules are usually written down and are different from customs in terms of enforcement in that sanction will apply if they are broken.
Similarities between rules and customs: Both regulate daily life and behaviour. Rules are generally accepted by individuals and organisations in the same way that a wider group accepts a custom.
Laws: Law is the system of rules which a particular country or community recognises as regulating the actions of its members and which it may be enforced by the imposition of penalties.
There are a number of features that distinguish laws from rules and customs:
How the laws, customs and rules are made
Discovering laws, rules and customs
Values: Are defined as the feelings, principles and attitudes that a society or an individual holds as being important.
Ethics: Are defined as the rules of conduct recognised in respect to various human behaviours or a particular group, such as teacher or legal and medical professionals. Ethics deal with what is morally right and wrong.
Differences between values and ethics: Ethical behaviour involves a choice between values in many circumstances. There is always the possibility that there will be a difference between what is ethical and strict compliance with the law. Most of our laws are based on ethical principles but this does not necessarily mean that strict compliance with them is being ethically responsible. Ethical responsibility is where people understand values systems and morality or what is “right” or “wrong”.
Describe the characteristics of “just” laws and the nature of justice:
Characteristics of a just law: The characteristics of a just law is that it is fair, impartial or reasonable. It means that it treats everyone the equally before the law, no matter what gender, race, religion. Standards need to be developed to measure wether laws can be classified as “just”. These standards are the characteristics of just laws.
Laws must be enforceable and policed.
Laws must be acceptable to most citizens as it is usually the case where governments are elected on democratic principles.
Laws must be discoverable, meaning that governments cannot pass laws and backdate their implementation, making acts criminal that were legal when committed.
Laws should be based on the notion of equality, meaning that people have an equal opportunity and are treated equally before the law.
Nature of justice: A definition of justice is that it is a set of principles of moral rightness, based on ethics, values, law, natural law, religion and equity. It is the quality of being fair and reasonable and the set of principles that guides people in judging what is right or wrong. Justice has the foundation:
The idea of fairness
The notion of equality
The concept of the rule of law
Equality: means that all members of a society have equal rights under the law. In terms of law, equality means that individuals are not subject to discrimination and the enforcement of law will apply equally to all people.
Fairness: refers to the state, condition or quality of being fair, or free from bias, dishonesty or injustice. Fairness is concerned with the impartiality. This means that when