September 17, 2003

Right Back At Ya

Posted by shonk at 05:43 PM in Feminism | TrackBack

I was initially going to post the following response to Curt as a comment, but decided to make it a separate post.

I absolutely agree that it is natural for people to feel more strongly for their loved ones, to be more opposed to harming them than harming others (e.g. a "good" mother would never steal from her children, but might steal for her children). However, that doesn't mean the law should necessarily punish harming one's loved ones more than harming others. After all, as you point out, law and morality are two distinct things. In fact, saying that law should punish domestic violence more harshly than other violence because morally we have a stronger obligation not to harm our loved ones than others is to run the risk of falling into the trap of trying to duplicate morality with laws, to equate law and morality.

Now, I understand, since most people feel a stronger taboo against harming loved ones than harming others why a majority might favor laws that reflect this feeling, but my question is not why we have domestic violence laws (because a majority voted for them, probably), but what purpose do they serve? It seems, upon this analysis, that they only serve to make people feel better. Now, you might argue that this is a legitimate function of law, but I think that's a dubious claim.