Why do we obey the Law?

by rileygridzak1 on October 30, 2015 - 6:27pm

Why do we obey the Law?

Each and every day, one will notice citizens abiding to basic laws in every aspect of life. This is because law has an impact in our daily routines.  These laws can be minor traffic laws like stopping at a stop sign or driving on the right side of the road. Society also must abide more serious laws like not committing a murder and running another person over with your car if they are frustrating you. The question that many sociologists and philosophers attempt to answer is “Why do we obey the law?”. Well, I believe that people obey the law for three major reasons; to avoid legal consequences, because they respect authority, and because they feel that it is morally right to do so.

A major reasoning behind why people obey law is that they do not want to face the consequences that come with breaking a law. I believe that this is why certain people, myself included, follow all laws even though it would not hurt anyone to break them. For example, if I am approaching a stop sign with no other cars around, I will still stop and look both ways before I drive past it. The reasoning behind this is that in my mind there is a possibility of a police car pulling out behind a bush and ticketing me. Another example of this would be jay walking. When done using caution and common sense, the act of jaywalking is not harmful to anyone. Yet, people do not jaywalk because it is technically illegal, and they don’t want to get charged for doing so. This leads to the conclusion that sometimes people obey laws not because they feel that they are of the upmost importance, but because they do not want to face any consequences.

People also obey the law because they respect authority. It is here where the concept of gratitude comes into play. In the big picture, our governing officials supply us with many things to make life easier for us. These things include; free healthcare, free public education, and security/safety. In return, our government has the expectation that society will follow the laws that they have set for us. Most of these laws are in effect to protect us. So, if we break these laws and therefore disrespect our government, how can we expect them to keep their promises to us?

Another reason why people obey the law is because they feel that it is against their morals to do so. When most people break a law, whether it may a minor of major offence, people feel a conflict within themselves because it is considered ‘bad’ to do this. For example, many people will not steal another person’s belongings because they will feel guilty about depriving them of what is rightfully theirs. This was proved to be true when we discussed “the laptop situation” during a class lecture. Most students would not have taken the laptop from the nice, unlocked car.  Morality can also be connected to obeying/breaking the law because we all have agreed to follow the government, so when we violate a law it is immoral because it is similar to going back on our word. 

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