Legal philosophy Essay
Paper type: Essay
Words: 727, Paragraphs: 10, Pages: 3
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The crucial element lies in bringing the guilty to justice; but for that to happen, it has to be determined first who is guilty and who is not, not just in terms of who committed the crime, but whether a certain action and the consequences of it fall under the category of crime at all, and under what criteria. There is a great scope of ambiguity and fuzziness here. The battle between good and evil seems to have been going on for all the time, and yet good and evil are highly relative terms.
There exist no clear-cut distinctions, no separate black and white segments.
In many ways, good and evil constitute a messy flux, and criminal justice system is needed to sort these things out on a continual basis. Law, with the moral and legal philosophy underlying it, directs the criminal justice system in this complex task of determining good from evil, the right from the wrong, as well as the right from the good.
These laws are not static and fixed entities, they can and do change with time; legal philosophy is constantly evolving. Our perceptions and interpretations of the good and the right need to be reconsidered from time to time.
The ongoing struggle is to evolve a society that is more firmly based on justice and freedom. Justice requires that each citizen have an equal and fair starting position in respect of the physical necessities, educational opportunities, and employment opportunities. And the principle of freedom requires that the government not force a single conception of the good upon individuals, but simply guarantee that individuals are free to pursue their various goods as they perceive them (Garner 2005).
The choices freely made reflect a variety of views of what is good. Human beings are uniquely individual personalities, endowed with immense potentiality for mental and spiritual growth. The role of society lies in being caring and tolerant about the individual and the differences in the unique individualities of people, and displaying a commitment to respect all its members who are in the process of cultivating their freedom and realizing their potentiality.
It is not the government’s business or right to determine what is good, but only to guarantee justice and freedom of choice to individuals. The guarantee of justice and freedom of choice will protect individuals’ pursuits of their various private conceptions of the good. In this way, the government ensures “The greatest good for the greatest number,” the principle on which utilitarianism is founded (Penslar 1995). Each individual is free to pursue his or her own conception of the good life, as long as it does not bring harm to others.
The government should be neutral as to the conceptions of the good life, in order to respect persons as free and independent agents of action, capable of choosing their own ends. For example, the good lies in the fact of each individual being free to follow a religion or belief system of his own choice, or not to follow any should he choose to. Unfortunately, this condition is very likely to be violated in modern world where fundamentalism is gaining ground everyday.
If we take the United States, for example, three things are happening 1) Evangelical Christianity is spreading like wild fire: “The Evangelical Christian movement is the fastest growing segment of American religion with 42% of all Christians in America identifying themselves as Evangelicals” (Cobia 2007) 2) as is common knowledge, the government is growing more powerful and centralized, and 3) a very high percentage of people in the government, including the president himself, are fundamentalist evangelical Christians (McMahon 2006).
In such a scenario, it is very likely that, in the near future, basic individual freedom to choose his or her own would be breached and fundamentalism be imposed as a state-sponsored religion. When that happens, the theory of evolution will be removed from textbooks and Biblical doctrine of creationism taught in its place.
Science would stagnate, progress would stop, and humanity may slip back to dark ages. Upon considering such a possibility, we can see how ensuring individual freedom to determine one’s own good is conducive to the good of the society as a whole, promotes progress and enlightens humanity. When individual freedom is lost, be it in religion or any other sphere of life, the spirit of humanity starts dying.