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Sometimes, we force people to conform to the law, regardless of what they might want. Other times, we reform the law in order to more properly reflect what our citizens want as a society, how they live their lives and how. How do we decide when people should conform to the law, and when the law should conform to society?

April 20, 2011

Response from Charles Taliaferro on April 23, 2011
Philosophers sometimes use the terms "perfect duty" to refer to duties that persons have which they can be compelled to obey, as distinct from imperfect duties which cannot compel obedience (these duties might range from a duty to be nice / not rude to acts of amazing courage which we regard as 'above and beyond the call of duty). Some duties seem obviously perfect duties like the duty not to commit homicide or rape or steal and so on, otherwise one would not have a society. Other duties seem to be imperfect, though highly important for democracy such as the duty to vote. I believe that citizens in a democracy who can vote (they are of age and of sound mind) should vote, but evidently this is not something that the USA and other democracies believe they can force citizens to do. You might check out Joel Feinberg's excellent book Rights, Justice, and the Bounds of Liberty.


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