Law Does Not Drive Us Reason Does

Law Does Not Drive Us, Reason Does Essay, Research Paper Law Does Not Drive Us, Reason Does English 111 February 21, 1997 Is an individual ever morally justified in breaking a man made law? I

Law Does Not Drive Us, Reason Does Essay, Research Paper

Law Does Not Drive Us, Reason Does

English 111

February 21, 1997

Is an individual ever morally justified in breaking a man made law? I

firmly believe the answer to this question is yes. If the question was stated

as, is an individual ever legally justified in breaking a man made law I would

have to say no. There are several reasons that have made me believe that it is

morally justifiable in breaking the law; however the most convincing comes from

Dr. Martin Luther King in his letter from a Birmingham Jail. ” We can never

forget what that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal…” (Classic

Arguments 668). King went on in his letter to say that it would be against man

made law to help a jew in Nazi Germany. What King said in his letter has to

make a person think that not all laws are good for the group in society and

morality is a justifiable excuse in breaking the law.

Those who oppose my view on this question may be quick to ask me how

come we go by law and not morality in society. Last year at St. Louis

University I had a roommate with the complete opposite view on this question.

He explained himself this way:

Human nature consists of three basic components. These are to


propagate, and to dominate. If humanity was left without any


parameters, this natural state of existence would govern its

behavior. Fortunately there are parameters, and they are laws.


What this basically says is that laws are made up to maintain order, monitor

actions, and work for the best interest of society as a whole. If their were no

laws chaos and anarchy would be widespread. This is why society has set up

governments. To maintain order and to gives us safety.

All of the above sounds good to me; however I have written a term paper

on international politics that points out where our own government has broken

its own laws. The first is the Congressional order allowing Federal

Investigators to take into custody fugitives of American laws no matter where

they are apprehended on this planet. The second example is the raid on Panama

during George Busch’s presidency that involved the invasion of a Nicaraguan

ambassadors home. Both of these violate the laws of sovereignty, jurisdiction,

and extraterritoriality (Huston). It is very easy to show that these two acts

of the U.S. government are in complete contradiction to our very own


So now it easy to say that laws sometimes need to be broken for the good

of the masses. When Dr. King wrote that he would aid the Jews even though he

would be braking the law and be open about, he was making the point that yes it

was morally justifiable to break the law. This is where it becomes really

tricky and philosophical. How does a person say what is morally right or

morally wrong. Morals can be best described as choosing right from wrong or

easier said a morals is simple yet complicated reason. The Universe as a whole

must follow reason, but the catch is that each individual is slightly different

in that each individual perceives his or hers own universe and reason

differently (Sandesara 2). That is the tricky part of morals, we just can not

say that this is wrong or that is right because everyone will see it differently.

When Dr. King said that he would aid a Jew in Nazi Germany, he said

knowing that he would be breaking German law. He would be doing it because it

is right and in the best interests of the masses and not the man made laws.

Some would call Dr. King’s actions as civil disobedience. What actually Dr.

King would be doing is helping and giving comfort to victims of an unjust and

wrongful law. Can there be any wrongdoing in that; especially since it is in

the publics best interest?

In conclusion I must say that what Dr. King said he would have done is

honorable. To put this simply Dr. King would have done what is right for

society. Helping a Jew in Nazi Germany or aiding a Christian in communist

Russia is reasonable and in the best interest of society as a whole. The only

group that would find objection are those who look to maintain power through the

laws that they themselves make up and expect everyone else to follow.

Plato felt that we have a debt to society and its laws, which impart we do

but do we have a debt to owe to immoral or unjust laws that harm other people or

groups of peoples. So to restate myself it is completely justifiable to break a

law if it can be seen as unjust or destructive to many peoples. Dr. King would

have been more than right by helping a Jew in Nazi Germany even though it was to

be considered illegal.

Works Cited

Huston, Tim. “International Politics.” Essay, International Business,

St. Louis University 1996.

Mosier, Mike. “The self as I See It.” Essay, Philosophy 115, St. Louis

University 1995.

Rottenburg, Anette. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Letter From a Birmingham


Elements of Argument.. Boston: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.


Sandisara, Samir. “Principals of Morals.” (1996): Online. Internet.

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