Introduction to Law - Moral Debate Activities

to Law
Learning Goals:
I can understand why law is
important in society.
I can identify conflicting
perspectives related to legal
Rules v. Laws:
Breaking rules can result in a penalty but are
not enforced by the police and courts
You can opt out of many rules. You cannot
opt out of laws or change laws on your own
If you break a law and are caught, you face
punishment – What if you are not caught? Is it
still a crime?
What is Law?:
Laws regulate our social, political and economic activities
Laws can differ between nations, provinces and cities
Some argue that law is whatever the government says it is.
Others argue law is merely a social necessity to help
society function by reason and fairness not brute force
Each generation influences the system and the laws that
are passes reflect the society of that period
For example:
1960s and 1970s – first national divorce laws, prison reform
emphasizing rehabilitation
1982 – enactment of Charter of Rights and Freedoms to
guarantee the rights of all Canadians regardless of age, race,
gender, religion…
Law in Our Lives:
Canada’s legal system represents principles
Canadian’s believe in and value
It is important to study law to ensure that the
legal system continues working - influenced
by thoughtful, informed citizens who can
affect meaningful change
Law is the study of people, how they behave,
what they value and how they solve problems
The Need for Law:
 Laws
create predictability and structure
for a peaceful and safe society
 Laws
protect the rights of individual
citizens, including and especially against
the government
 Norms
- A standard or pattern, especially
of social behavior, that is typical or
expected of a group
 Values - The moral principles and beliefs
or accepted standards of a person or
social group
 Law – a rule to govern action; a rule of
conduct established by government, for
society to follow and obey.
What impacts our values and
 Religion
 Education
 Property
 Family
 Society
 Political
Rule of Law:
 Three-part
principle of justice
Individuals recognize laws are necessary
to regulate society
Law applies equally to everyone,
including heads of state, police, and
No one can exercise unrestricted power
to take away rights except in agreement
with the law
Toronto Mayor – Rob Ford
Rule of Law:
 Background
on the case:
 What
has happened recently?
Characteristics of Justice:
law is unjust if it discriminates using
irrelevant characteristics – (such as...?)
 Law
should be impartial, regardless of a
person’s position or financial status
 Laws
must be just and have some
relationship to society’s values and beliefs
Law and Morality:
 Some
laws are practical (ex. property
rights, traffic). Other laws reflect the
values of the majority of society (ex.
euthanasia, child pornography, spanking)
 Anytime
laws reflect moral values and
beliefs, there will be controversy
Activity – Moral Judgment:
 Case
1: Sue Rodriguez –
Euthanasia/Assisted-Suicide Law (Group
 Case
2 – ‘Matter of Life and Death’ –
Abortion Law (Individual Response)
Post Activity Questions for
Why is Euthanasia against the Federal
Criminal Code, but Abortion is not?
Abortion was not always legal in Canada.
Why do you think they changed that law?
Abortion and Euthanasia are controversial
laws based on differences of morality. What
perspectives do you think exist on these
topics? What do you think are their reasons for
their perspective?