Does ones support of legalized abortion or same sex marriage imply that this reflects the person's personal morality or can the personal sphere and public sphere be separated? For example a religious Catholic person feels conception is the beginning of the life of the child as a moral principle,yet this person still does not feel the need to make abortion illegal That is they on on a legalistic level the person endorses the law which provides for legal Abortions (public sphere) yet their personal moral code sees it as wrong(personal sphere) or is that a conflict?

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    Thanks for the rewrite-- it's much clearer now what you are getting at. Dec 12, 2011 at 8:23
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    There is only a conflict if you believe that everything that is wrong should be illegal. Dec 19, 2011 at 15:19
  • Just to play devil's advocate, what things do you think are wrong that shouldn't be illegal? In practice, I'm against making it illegal to do a lot of things I see as morally wrong, but that's only because our legal system is not ideal. But theoretically, in an otherwise perfect system, what actions which you find morally wrong do you think should not be against the law to do?
    – stoicfury
    Dec 19, 2011 at 20:05
  • I'm still confused. The title question is different than the body question, for one. So let's start with body: you're asking if there is a conflict in endorsing a law even though it runs contrary to their moral beliefs? Yes, obviously there's a conflict — it's embedded in the very premise. Returning to the title question—is it immoral? —well, according to whom? If a particular person finds such conflicts morally wrong, then yes it is immoral. If they do not, then no, it is not. Are you otherwise trying to suggest a universal objective morality? It would be helpful if you could clarify a bit.
    – stoicfury
    Dec 20, 2011 at 2:38
  • @stoicfury I think you're conflating two different issues. Sure, it's not always wrong not to call your mother on mother's day -- there are certainly circumstances where it's justified. But even in the situations where's it's unjustified and morally wrong not call your mother on mother's day, it certainly should be illegal. That's because the decision of whether or not to call your mother is within the scope of your moral authority. You are entitled to do wrong within that scope if you choose to. Dec 20, 2011 at 4:43

1 Answer 1


I am not clear on what you mean by "support" of a given law, but I can break it down into at least two cases:

  1. The first case is where I take supporting to mean doing so by contributing to its creation in the law-making process, in which case one is morally responsible for the ethical standing of the law.
  2. In the second case, if by supporting you mean doing so by enforcing a law, then matters are a bit more complicated. It definitely does not necessarily imply that the person who inforces a law "believes" the law at all. The predominant school of thought in legal scholarship today is Legal Positivism which holds that there is an important distinction between morality and law. In particular, the rule of law does not imply the rule of good law. In this view it is considered a virtue of the rule of law to uphold it regardless of its moral standing. Judges who interpret morally bad laws or police who enforce these laws are not morally responsible for upholding them insofar as they are fulfilling their legal duties. It is useful to contrast this school of thought with the classical Natural Law view which holds that law is a universal that is grounded in nature. The interpretation of what this means varies greatly but it can be taken to mean that some "natural" precept can be used as a standard to measure the validity of law. If this standard is taken to be a moral standard then "bad" laws are also invalid laws and one has no duty to enforce "bad" laws.
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    endorse: to approve, support, or sustain: to endorse a political candidate.
    – stoicfury
    Dec 12, 2011 at 4:52
  • -1 only because endorsing doesn't necessarily imply action; in fact it doesn't really imply it at all. You present the notion of endorsing or supporting as either "contributing" or "enforcing". This is a false characterization; it's possible to endorse or support a law without actually doing anything about it (i.e., merely sustaining it by your approval; consciously agreeing with it's existence, etc.).
    – stoicfury
    Dec 19, 2011 at 19:59
  • Yes, support does not imply action -- the answer does not assume that. The characterization that you describe as false is not meant to be comprehensive. In my answer I was interested in the senses of the word “support” or "endorse" that were most pertinent to the question.
    – ruminator
    Dec 19, 2011 at 20:32
  • Hmm... ok. It reads as if it does with the whole "two cases" line, and just those two cases don't address the question enough for me, if the question is what I think it is. Either way, the question itself is not really clear so I'm going to undownvote and see if we can get some clarification first. :)
    – stoicfury
    Dec 20, 2011 at 2:41

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