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February 20, 2019

The Origin of Laws

According to David Hume, a society is bound together by laws from a justice system. These laws were originally created to make people useful to each other and to maintain peace and order.

Initially, these were dictated arbitrarily by a chieftain or king. In time, as the society progressed, those laws were decided by the people themselves through a parliament or senate. This allowed the laws to suit the people and their changing situation.

While the creation of laws have been studied in depth by Romans, Chinese, and Europeans, it is surprising that few have ventured into the spirit or feelings that led to the creation of those laws.

For example, toddlers have been riding in cars for many decades since cars were invented. However, the law to mandate car seats for children have been implemented only recently in some countries. This is because, in the past, people only had kids and not many had cars. But because of globalization and development, more people can have both kids and cars. This then leads to the new feeling of wanting safety for kids in cars.

However, this feeling for their safety might not be in line with other things in society. For example, there might be a huge inequality which would make such a law unfair to poor families who have many kids or only one small car. Thus, upon a bigger view of society, such a law would be unfair. This would lead to disputes and even cause the law to be overturned, creating a headache for those who implemented it.

The problem is that only a few people are consulted when making such laws. This usually done by interviews on a sample population since it would be too costly to look for all car owners with kids and then interview them. This makes the law only good for a small sample and not for all.

Constitutional Virtues

To solve this, we propose a set of ‘Constitutional Virtues’ that are decided on by the people.

Those virtues make their abode in the minds of men who are dear to the gods, and are their best guardians and sentinels. Socrates, The Simple Republic by Plato, Book 8

While the Constitution is the letter of the law that is the foundation of the state, the Consitutional virtues are the spirit or morals of the law. These guide both the lawmakers who make laws and the courts who decide on those laws. For example, let’s suppose that the virtues of ‘Worker Nation’ are:

  1. Honesty
  2. Frugality
  3. Hardwork

In the dispute between rich and poor car owners, its government will side with the poor, based on the second virtue of frugality and repeal the law.

On the other hand, let’s say the virtues of ‘Liberal Nation’ are:

  1. Happiness
  2. Freedom
  3. Progress

In this case, its government will side with the rich car owners and force the law to be implemented.

Let’s Extend it

Thus, we have two countries with two different sets of virtues

Worker Nation Liberal Nation
Honesty Happiness
Frugality Freedom
Hardwork Progress

These then lead to different ourcomes for the same law:

Proposal Worker Nation Liberal Nation
Car seats for kids Reject Accept

We can then guesstimate what the outcome will be for other laws:

Proposal Worker Nation Outcome-virtue Liberal Nation Outcome-virtue
Massive Green Energy Spending Reject-frugality Accept-progress
Universal Healthcare Accept-frugality Reject-happiness
Mask mandates Accept-honesty Reject-freedom
Free trade Reject-frugality Accept-freedom

Constitutional Virtues thus gives the following advantages:

  • it helps resolve disputes on the interpretation of laws
  • it unifies policymaking to make the laws consistent with each other, instead of being contradictory
  • it prevents lobby groups from hijacking a few lawmakers to rush laws that are against the nation’s interests

To get an unnatural law in place, the lobbyist must first change the Constitutional virtues. This adds to his expense which might cause him to cancel his attempt. Alternatively, he could push for the law anyway and spend more effort masking its true intent.

How are Constitutional Virtues created?

The virtues can be voted on by the people every 5 or 6 years, or whenever they elect their national leaders. For dictatorships, it can be created at least once. This will let foreigners know what virtues are important in that country.

Democracies can use any popular app to verify that the chosen virtues are more of less approved by the public.

A country can have as many as 20, and as few as 3. An example is the French version which are:

  1. Liberty
  2. Equality
  3. Fraternity

Currently, the virtue of liberty manifests as the French anti-Islamic policy of allowing drawings of the Prophet Mohammad, an act that is banned in Islam. This creates anger in Muslims around the world against the French for disrespecting their Islamic laws. To solve this, the French could add ‘respect’ as a virtue:

  1. Liberty
  2. Respect
  3. Equality
  4. Fraternity

This would then lead to French laws that would make such drawings illegal. In this way, unnecessary conflict, death, and damage to property are prevented.

The more virtues, the less impact each one has. So a nation should balance quantity with quality. For example, our proposed virtues for the Philippines are:

  1. Truth
  2. Heart
  3. Self-control
  4. Respect
  5. Cooperation
  6. Intellect
  7. Hard work
  8. Environmentalism

By combining the French and Philippine virtues, the common ones are revealed:

  1. Respect
  2. Cooperation or Fraternity

These then are common points that the two countries or people can base their relationship on, whether it be political, economic, social, or personal.