Does Observance of all Laws make one Moral

The line between morality and law is quite thin and as such individuals have confused the two terms more often than not. Morality refers to the rules that distinguish right from wrong in the society (Vaughn, 2015). A large portion of morals are unwritten and enforcement left to individual discretion or at best, ad hoc structures at both the informal and professional level. In the latter, morals are defined in a framework of ethics which offers a reasonable degree of enforceability. On the other hand, laws refer to rules that are enforceable in a society. Violations of such may lead to deprivation of freedom, possessions and so forth. The level of enforceability in law supersedes morals in their basic construction as well as development into ethics (Vaughn, 2015). Elsewhere, the common denominator in both concepts is their ubiquity and dominance in the regulation of conduct in any society. This connection has led to the question as to whether observing all laws makes one moral. This paper argues that observing all laws does not guarantee morality, giving qualifying reasons.

Observing all laws does not make one moral due to the unassailable fact that not all laws are based on moral principles. Though a large number of laws are based on the principle of promoting right and discouraging wrong, there is a good number that falls outside this framework. In most cases, the presence of a huge number of laws that align to mores in society has led to the thought that morality and law are equal, a fallacious generalization (Vaughn, 2015). Some laws such as those permitting abortion, denying women certain freedoms in some jurisdictions and legalizing suicide are not moral. Therefore, it is important to get it straight that though many laws subscribe to moral guidelines, not all of them do. Abiding by laws such as procuring medical abortions will therefore render someone outside the moral code despite being law abiding (Petrazycki, 2017). In the end, abiding by law may render one moral sometimes, but clearly not always.

Elsewhere, observing law does not guarantee one’s morality due to the different approaches to truth in the two concepts. Legal compliance is determined by facts and evidence, while morality is purely about the truth (Petrazycki, 2017). Though at times evidence used to establish legal compliance is consummate to the truth, many at times it is not. Individuals can fabricate evidence, distort it and present their own versions of it to exonerate themselves legally (Vaughn, 2015). While this would be presumed to be the truth, it actually isn’t. The law in a way offers latitude to lies as long as one gets away with it. On the other hand, morality is uncompromising when it comes to truth, with its absolute version required to determine right and wrong. Therefore, one may observe all laws using lies, or selective truth, which is not moral.

In conclusion, despite the semblance of truth and morality, there is no doubt that observing all laws does not render one moral. This is because of the various laws that are formed outside moral principles like abortion laws and those that discriminate on women and other groups. Elsewhere, morality and law approach truth differently which further contributes to the discordance of the two concepts. While the law relies on evidence, which can constitute of untruths, morality is uncompromising on the element of truth.


Petrazycki, L. (2017). Law and morality. Routledge.

Vaughn, L. (2015). Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.

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