Kinds of Law

Cosmetic Law

Law has been familiar to human societies since Hammurabi. Philosophers have long distinguished more than one kind of law: divine law, natural law, civic law … (and watch out: the terms don’t always mean what they appear to mean). There’s also more than one kind of kind (There’s a prospective post: Kind of Kind!) … But here let me just emphasize that one kind of law is seldom acknowledged: cosmetic law.

image borrowed,
thank you Organic Skin Care Pro

Falling objects accelerate at 32 feet per second per second: confirmable, under familiar earth conditions. Other factors, wind, can be in- or excluded. That’s physics: laws based on observation, on experience: thought, calculation is involved …
Moses told the Jews that God said not to have any gods before him. That’s religious law: divine law.
(If Moses said anything about accelerating objects, I know no trace of it.) Mohammed said that there is only one God, and his name is Allah. Moloch is said to want babies thrown into a fire, the fire in his maw. … King Kong wanted a blond tied to a stake.

Clear all that out of your head because here comes a completely different kind of law: “55 MPH”!

And then there’s: “No Parking, except Wed, 7-8 PM.” Related, there’s “25 MPH, except when school children are present: then it’s 15 MPH. (Or unless you’re a diplomat) (or unless you’re the governor’s son.)

Objects accelerate at 32 ft per sec per sec whether they’re the governor’s son or not, whether or not it’s Wednesday, whether or not it’s 7 or 8 PM. But hold on, here comes the different kind of law I’m ushering consideration of:
How about laws that don’t describe human behavior objectively, neither do they order traffic, parking … flow. They describe not what we do do, nor what we should do, but how we wish to be seen:

We don’t torture prisoners of war.
Period! (Except behind closed doors, except in foreign lands, except when calling it “interrogation.”

So: it’s “law” as mask, as costume: law as social camouflage, verbiage to accompany hypocrisy.

That’s a kind of law hard to study, because nobody, nobody with a publicity budget, is truthful about the matter.

OK, that’s the first draft to post. Please: add your own suggestions.
I’ll come back and explore an example or two. Trying to offer domestic and foreign examples:
ushering in the question: how different are we from the Nazis? the Communists? the Zionists? objectively?


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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