The unethical and the unlawful
Posted on May 25, 2011
Yesterday I posted a Gallup survey that shows 51 percent of Americans are “pro-choice,” but that the same number of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong. Indeed, only 39 percent of Americans think abortion is morally acceptable. Yet 51 percent of Americans believe it should be legal.
What is the basis of this seemingly uneven reasoning? That is the question I explored recently on Rationally Speaking:
Our ethical convictions do influence the law. These convictions — about right and wrong, good and bad, justice, virtue, happiness, and human flourishing — concern the sort of society we would like to see. Since laws help to secure a certain model of society, ethics will naturally inform, if not determine, the sort of laws we want. There is nothing particularly strange about this. Yet it also seems obvious that not everything that is unethical should be unlawful (and, of course, not everything that is unlawful is really unethical). So what makes something both unethical and worth making illegal?