Published on February 16, 2014
VALUES AND ETHICS
VALUES The values held by a society are a reflection of the things that are considered important, and they are often reflected in the law For example, our society values the concept of private property. For this reason, there are many laws designed to protect property. The law is a reflection of the values held by the society that makes it.
ETHICS Ethics are defined as those things that a society considers to be right and wrong. If we act ethically, we are said to be “doing the right thing.” If you find a wallet in the park with $200 inside and take it to the police station, you are acting ethically.
CHANGES OVER TIME Values and ethics do not remain constant within society. In order for the law to remain effective, it must be adaptable.
CHANGES IN AUSTRALIAN VALUES AND ETHICS HAVE BEEN REFLECTED IN LAWS Values/Ethics Historically Now Role of women Women were expected to cease working once they married Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) & Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) protect women’s rights Capital punishment Was permitted and carried out in Australia (Vic 1967) Is illegal in all states (since 1984); banned by federal government in 2010 Homosexuality Individuals could be fined or imprisoned for “homosexual intercourse” (Tas 1997) Ongoing reforms to antidiscrimination, family, taxation, welfare and employment laws to offer equality to same-sex couples ??? ??? ???
DISCUSS… Are judges and politicians the best people to decide whether the law accurately reflects the values and ethics of society?
HOMEWORK • Conduct research into a controversial area of law reform (euthanasia, same-sex marriage, decriminalisation of drugs, etc). • Write a paragraph that outlines the current laws relating to the issue. • Critically analyse the laws as they stand, and evaluate the need for law reform.
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