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Political and Social Law as Standard

Political and Social Law as Standard

Political Law as Standard:

  • According to some, political law (the verdict of the state) is the determinant of right and wrong.
  • Morality consists in obedience to the laws of the state. Thus, the moral standard is a code of laws imposed upon the people by the state.
  • Hobbes has said that the civil law alone is the Supreme Court of appeal in all cases of right and wrong.


  1. This theory, again, abolishes the distinction between virtue and prudence, morality and self-interest.
  2. A system of political laws cannot constitute the ultimate moral standard, since such laws themselves are open to moral scrutiny.
  3. Political laws cover only a fraction of our active life and, therefore, cannot be the standard with reference to which we may judge every possible case.

Social Law as Standard:

  • According to some, the real standard of morality is constituted by the opinions, manners and customs of society. What is in conformity with these is right, what is contrary to these is wrong.
  • The society enforces its rules (manners and customs) through public sentiments of approval and disapproval, honour and dishonour. A man may be excommunicated for not obeying the rules of society.                                                                                    Political and Social Law as Standard
  • Thus, society and morality are based on an implicit contract or covenant which everyone is tacitly pledged to observe. Nothing is right or wrong in itself, but only by social rule and covenant.


  • As a matter of fact we are well aware that social opinion is variable, it changes from age to age. The social manners and customs accepted in one period are often condemned as wrong in another. In that case, how can social norms be regarded as uniform and consistent moral standard? Moreover, what is customary may not be moral.
  • The conventions and customs of a society are often questioned and are subjected to moral scrutiny. We speak of customs and practices as good or bad, as moral or immoral, thus tacitly, acknowledging the existence of a higher standard by reference to which even these are to be judged.
  • Thus, law cannot be regarded as the ultimate standard. According to some, a law without reference to an end is arbitrary and insignificant; the question of the moral standard is not solved so long as we do not determine the true end of life, the highest good or the Summum Bonum.
  • In other words, acts are to judged good or bad with reference to the supreme end of life. Some have supposed that pleasure is the supreme end of life or Summum Bonum. This theory is called Hedonism, because it makes hedone or pleasure as the ultimate end or good.



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