Conscience by Proxy

I was watching the news the other night about a VA hospital that has an infestation of Legionnaires’ Disease. When asked why it didn’t inform the patients (current and incoming) and/or the public, the answer was:

because we aren’t required to.

In any discussion of laws, we have to ask ourselves: why do we need regulations, controls, and laws at all? The short answer is: because the constituents of any population do not have the same level of characteristics that include honesty, consideration, integrity, and conscience; neither do they necessarily share the same perspectives on behavior control. (If God told you (Abraham) to kill your son (Isaac), would you do it? If you believed God required you to kill a doctor who, among other services, performs abortions, would you do it?)

I watched a bunch of kids outside my window yesterday, in the street, having a heated discussion on when you needed to acknowledge that you were hit by a bullet or killed and what the disposition of a dead person was supposed to be. They couldn’t work it out, so the game ceased to be and the group fractured and each went his way.

When you teach your kids about laws, do you teach them that laws are restrictions of freedoms (which freedoms cannot exist if there are any controls), or do you teach them why we have stop signs; why when you buy something, you then own it; why when you play a game, there are rules and that working within those rules is creativity, where the rules are bounds that allow common expectations of behavior? In short, to play fair, you have to recognize when you’ve been killed and behave accordingly.

Laws provide a common structure that levels a population’s moral or character development as well as leveling expectations. They establish a common moral structure between various perspectives on morality.

And for some people or entities, following a law is the only conscience they might possess.


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