Probably many people ask themselves why we obey the law. In any case, we should ask ourselves such a question, the answer to it is the source of important information about us, it determines our place in the social hierarchy of meanings.
The best answer would be that we obey the law because we believe it to be right. This, of course, is true, but only in the sense that we derive rightness from moral duty. Some moral indications coincide with religious indications, some of them are very close to them. In fact, the answer to the question why, for example, you should not have sex with a chicken (the example of Jonathan Haidt), the answer is: because yes, because it is not allowed to. We call such reasons for obeying the rules of confession.
The second motive of obeying the law is pragmatic, it boils down to an intuitive application of Kant’s categorical imperative: One should always act according to such rules as to which we would like them to be applied by everyone and at all times. This is a pragmatic motivation and does not have to be associated with a deep moral experience. For example, it is easier for me to throw away rubbish as needed, but for the public’s good, I can be persuaded to select them. We call these reasons for compliance with the rules acceptance.
But finally, very often, we obey the law because we are afraid of the consequences of not following it, we are simply afraid of being punished. Generally call such causes extortion.
In fact, our motives for compliance are very often mixed. We confess a little, we accept a little, we are a little afraid.
And it is the functioning of particular societies that differs in the extent to which particular ingredients are mixed into our way of accepting rules.
In Poland, the acceptance of regulations resulting from extortion and fear of punishment dominates in many cases. Consequently, in those cases where the penalty is low or probably will not be imposed at all, this compliance ceases. Worse still, all awareness of the sense for which such laws were invented disappears.
In many other societies and nations among car drivers, showing the intent to turn left certainly belongs to the rules followed for the sake of acceptance. Nobody, no driver likes to find out at the last minute that the one in front of him is turning left in a situation when we are going to go straight. This own experience, together with a more or less pissed off person, does not, however, become a prerequisite for universal acceptance of the sensible use of the left indicator. Again, the premise of such acceptance of the regulations would be a moral imperative, commonly known as Kant’s categorical imperative.
Why is it so that we accept what is harmful to us, and what is more – this situation does not affect our way of using the indicator? About it in the next episodes. Stay with us.