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Essay On Why Society Has Laws

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GRE Issue 65: Every Individual In A Society Has A Responsibility To Obey Just Laws And To Disobey And Resist Unjust Laws - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “Every individual in a society has a responsibility to obey just laws and to disobey and resist unjust laws. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.”

The statement claims that every individual in a society has a responsibility to obey just laws and to disobey and resist unjust laws. In some cases, every individual should obey just laws as well as resisting unjust one. On the one hand, observing just laws helps society keep harmony. On the other hand, resisting unjust ones prevent government from becoming totalitarian. However, in some cases, though the recommendation mentioned above is well intentioned, it is unrealistic and infeasible to perform this suggestion. After all, the answers to whether a law is just or not depend on different people.

Obeying just laws is beneficial to social stability since if everyone does not violate righteous regulations, each one in society is likely to lead a happy and peaceful life. For instance, imagine a nation in which every single one of citizens acts in accordance with just laws. As a result, there is every likelihood that in such society, no robbery, no burglary and no murder exists, which shows a harmonious atmosphere. Also, it is necessary for citizens to resist biased laws in order to prevent the government from becoming corrupt or autocratic. Some unfair laws made by government authorities are for the sake of satisfying their own interests. The laws of ancient Rome are an excellent example of this point. Their laws stipulate that if a slave kills his/her master, he/she must suffer severe torture and be executed finally. In contrast, if a master or aristocrat kills his/her slave, he/she would receive no punishment. Apart from that, compared to slaves having few inherent rights, the aristocrats enjoy all rights, ranging from receiving education to voting rights under their codes. Under this circumstance, it is incumbent on slaves to resist these unfair laws so as to pursue equality. Therefore, resisting unjust laws is every individual’s responsibility.

However, one may argue that the question about what justice really means is somewhat subjective. Because of different religions, genders, beliefs, cultures and classes, everyone may have distinct opinion about justice. Admittedly, it is true that some laws, especially the ones regulating robbery or murder, are considered just laws by a majority of people, some laws with respect to same-sex marriage or abortion are controversial simply because different people may give opposite answers to whether these laws are just. For instance, in China, the government authorities think that the law concerning abortion is just largely because with the help of this law, the birth rate has reduced rapidly, which has prevented Chinese population from increasing dramatically. Also, in their points of view, right of life comes into being after birth. On contrary, abortion is illegal because no one has the right to deprive children of the right of life from the American government’s perspective. Therefore, under different circumstances, a just law may become unjust. Consequently, some people obey this law while others try to resist it, which makes the recommendation become infeasible and unrealistic.

In conclusion, in some cases, individuals should have a responsibilities to obey just laws and disobey unjust ones if a majority of people have the same opinion. Nevertheless, when it comes to controversial laws, the recommendation becomes unrealistic.



In your first argument, you deal with fairly banal or obvious examples, which I think limits the possible complexity of the argument, and that's unfortunate because complexity is what one should aim for. You claim that people should obey just laws, because that leads to peace, and resist unjust laws, because that inhibits the formation of totalitarian governments. You do introduce some complexity with your second argument, where you note that some laws are considered just by some and unjust by others. Your only comment on this circumstance, however, is that it makes the recommendation unrealistic. That's not a very helpful guide to me if I'm a doctor in a country where abortion is illegal (abortion is actually legal in the United States, by the way), think the law is unjust, and so wonder whether I have a responsibility to resist that law and help women who want abortions. In the same way, the claim that the recommendation is unrealistic would not help me if I were opposed to abortion and so tried to resist the law, unjust in my view, permitting abortions by, say, staging an illegal occupation of an abortion clinic.

Everytime we act in a manner that is subject to ethical judgement, we are involved to some extent in a dilemma; every time I devote myself to one course of action, I must sacrifice some other course of action; I'm writing this review instead of playing with my child! What I think you need to find are examples that elucidate this problem. Your essay claims that one should always obey uncontroversially just laws. But there must be cases where being responsible with respect to the law means being irresponsible with respect to some other duty. For instance, I should certainly, out of respect for the law, not steal; but what if I steal in the course of an emergency in order to protect myself or others from harm. In many jurisdictions the law is essentially suspended in cases of necessity or emergency, so the point may be often technically moot, but what I want to suggest nonetheless is that the interesting cases arise when there is a conflict of duties, as opposed to a single duty that is so unproblematic to perform, from an ethical standpoint, that the performing of it goes without saying.

Best, EJ.

Submitted by: hahaxiao66

Tagged...GRE essay feedback, essay help, issue analysis essay

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The law is important for a society for it serves as a norm of conduct for citizens. It was also made to provide for proper guidelines and order upon the behaviour for all citizens and to sustain the equity on the three branches of the government. It keeps the society running. Without law there would be chaos and it would be survival of the fittest and everyman for himself. Not an ideal lifestyle for most part.

The law is important because it acts as a guideline as to what is accepted in society. Without it there would be conflicts between social groups and communities. It is pivotal that we follow them. The law allows for easy adoption to changes that occur in the society.

Society is a ‘web-relationship’ and social change obviously means a change in the system of social relationship where a social relationship is understood in terms of social processes and social interactions and social organizations. Thus, the term, ‘social change’ is used to indicate desirable variations in social institution, social processes and social organization. It includes alterations in the structure and functions of the society. Closer analysis of the role of law vis-à-vis social change leads us to distinguish between the direct and the indirect aspects of the role of law.

1. Law plays an important indirect role in regard to social change by shaping a direct impact on society. For example: A law setting up a compulsory educational system.

2. On the other hand, law interacts in many cases indirectly with basic social institutions in a manner constituting a direct relationship between law and social change. For example, a law designed to prohibit polygamy.

Law plays an agent of modernization and social change. It is also an indicator of the nature of societal complexity and its attendant problems of integration. Further, the reinforcement of our belief in the age-old panchayat system, the abolition of the abhorable practices of untouchability, child marriage, sati, dowry etc are typical illustrations of social change being brought about in the country trough laws.

Law is an effective medium or agency, instrumental in bringing about social change in the country or in any region in particular. Therefore, we rejuvenate our belief that law has been pivotal in introducing changes in the societal structure and relationships and continues to be so.

Law certainly has acted as a catalyst in the process of social transformation of people wherein the dilution of caste inequalities, protective measures for the weak and vulnerable sections, providing for the dignified existence of those living under unwholesome conditions etc. are the illustrious examples in this regard. Social change involves an alteration of society; its economic structure, values and beliefs, and its economic, political and social dimensions also undergo modification. However, social change does not affect all aspects of society in the same manner.

While much of social change is brought about by material changes such as technology, new patterns of production, etc., other conditions are also necessary. For example, as we have discussed it before, legal prohibition of untouchability in free India has not succeeded because of inadequate social support.

Nonetheless, when law cannot bring about change without social support, it still can create certain preconditions for social change. Moreover, after independence, the Constitution of India provided far-reaching guidelines for change. Its directive principle suggested a blueprint for a new nation. The de-recognition of the caste system, equality before the law and equal opportunities for all in economic, political and social spheres were some of the high points of the Indian Constitution.

                                                   The Relationship between Law and Society

Theorists have traditionally maintained that there are certain broad views on the substantive criminal law. One set of such constraints concerns the sorts of behaviour that may legitimately be prohibited. Is it proper, for example, to criminalize a certain kind of action on the grounds that most people in one’s society regard it as immoral? The other set of constraints which concerns what is needed in order to establish criminal responsibility that is liability, independently of the content of the particular statute whose violation is in question.


Legal system reflects all the energy of life within in any society. Law has the complex vitality of a living organism. We can say that law is a social science characterized by movement and adaptation. Rules are neither created nor applied in a vacuum, on the other hand they created and used time and again for a purpose. Rules are intended to move us in a certain direction that we assume is good, or prohibit movement in direction that we believe is bad.

The social rules are made by the members of the society. Disobedience of the social rules is followed by punishment of social disapproval. There is no positive penalty associated with the violation of rules except excommunication or ostracism. On the other hand, law is enforced by the state. The objective of law is to bring order in the society so the members of society can progress and develop with some sort of security regarding the future. The state makes laws. Disobedience of state laws invites penalty, which is enforced by the government by the power of the state. What is not enforceable is not Law.


Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people.

If the harm is criminalized in legislation, criminal law offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives.

Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies, while international law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to environmental regulation or military action. The legal response to a given social or technological problem is therefore in itself a major social action which may aggravate a given problem or alleviate and help to solve it.

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