Recently, I was engaged in a long argument in Facebook on what should be the extent of laws in a country. I was defending an argument similar to the one written in the title. I think I came up with some really interesting logic against the proposition. I’m preserving these here. As it was a part of an ongoing conversation, it might sound awkward. The full conversation is available in this Facebook post. Check out the replies of the second comment.
“no set of rules or ethical standard can be applicable for all people………we shouldn’t try to impose our standard on other people … as long as someone is not hurting other people’s rights and safety” —> So, this is the basis of your decision (assumption) on what to be included in a law or not. Your examples illustrate how you can apply this assumption in several situations. Now let me show why this assumption is vacuous.
1. Concept of “not hurting others” has far reaching impact:
A lot of things that look like not affecting others from a superficial point of view, basically hurts others if you look deep inside the facts. Let me start with simple examples. You think “not wearing seat belt is a personal decision”. However, imagine, if you do not wear seat belt and kill yourself, you are actually making your children orphan. You are robbing a better childhood from them. This is how you are hurting “others” by your “personal decision”. Same logic applies to drug use. I think it is not even possible to do anything in a social system without affecting others. Just you can see the affecting process sometimes, and sometimes you fail to see it. Even it may be possible to affect others when you think you are totally isolated from them. For example, western nations polluted the air, so CO2 level increased. They think — “okay, we are only affecting ourselves in exchange of our own comfort”. However, notice how wrong they are. Global warming is causing countries like Bangladesh to get affected by flood. Now, if you agree that nothing is practically possible without affecting others, then you agree that there should be rules or ethical standard for everything.
2. Self Contradicting:
The assumption says, “no set of rules or ethical standard can be applicable for all people”. However, this rule itself is imposing an ethical standard over everyone. A suitable analogy for this type of self-contradictory statement is this: “I am telling a lie”.
3. Potentially Clamorous:
Imagine what will happen if everyone tries to do whatever they want. Are you familiar with the term “Anarchy”? If you live in a society, you have a responsibility to keep it calm and healthy. Laws are a way to keep the discipline.
4. Why shouldn’t “others” also include other animals, like chicken or cow? Why do you eat them then?
Better alternative for this assumption: Social scientists have long abandoned the existence of a ground set rule for deciding what should be or shouldn’t be the truth. Please check out the concept of “interpretivism”. Why not let the the people agree upon and decide what should be the law for them?
I agree that it is difficult to get conclusive theories for human behavior. What I meant to say, atleast, try to study the consequences of the tax-free philosophies in countries where there is low or no tax at all (e.g. Qatar). Are those theories being applicable in those countries? What are the consequences they face etc. Once this is well studied and well understood then you have enough concrete material to start voicing or raising awareness. Why the businessmen don’t want to spend money in these research or to raise awareness? Why they just want to cheat?