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Are increasing laws leading people to abandon their humanity?

Everyday new laws are created to prevent or premote actions, but what about common sense?

I think an intelligent person can agree that there are no absolutes in life. So why is it that we cannot find a way to create one rule, call it the "Golden Rule" (pun intended), and fix the broken system?

Do we really need "laws" to protect us from ourselves? Or laws to proteect our feelings? What happend to self-esteem and common sense?

Why do we make criminals out of people instead of educating them, has the system really given up on people and decided that locking them away is just easier?

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    Oct 30 2012: We don't incarcerate people because we don't want to educate them, or because we think it is easier. People go to prison after episodes of criminal behaviour, often after several repeated offenses. Society obliges criminals who demonstrate clearly by their conduct that they cannot play well with others, like we all learned in kindergarten. We don't need laws to protect us from ourselves, we need laws to protect us from those who prey upon us. There is an ancient, venerated Golden Rule which governs decent, honorable people who exercise common sense. That Rule defines the concept of self-esteem and common sense. The other myriad laws are for all those who find the Golden Rule unworkable.
  • Oct 30 2012: Yes.

    Do we need laws? Maybe not.

    IMO, the function of our current government is to provide a means to wield power. "Protecting" the public from murderers and rapists is a side effect, not its primary purpose. When you look at government this way, much of the insanity that is apparent in our governments starts to make a lame kind of sense. Many of those Catch-22 situations are on purpose.

    It is a simple truth that democracy is a bad form government, it is just the best we have so far.

    We might be able to develop a good government by trying different forms of government on a small scale, perhaps starting with just a few hundred citizens. Bad governments will be abandoned. When a good government emerges people will start moving there and the jurisdiction will grow.

    The first step to forming a good government is to determine its purpose. I know that MY thinking about government is so cluttered up with history and current law that I doubt that I am capable of thinking about government with a fresh blank-page perspective.

    "Are increasing laws leading people to abandon their humanity?" Certainly some people. The fix is very difficult.
    • Oct 30 2012: "We might be able to develop a good government by trying different forms of government on a small scale, perhaps starting with just a few hundred citizens. Bad governments will be abandoned. When a good government emerges people will start moving there and the jurisdiction will grow."

      Many systems stop working well when they grow beyond a few hundred or few thousand people, so it's not as simple as you describe here.
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    Oct 30 2012: i think it's bureaucracy gone mad. why on earth we insist on this form of governing ourselves, I don't know.

    how many times have you contacted a government department and been stonewalled by a phone monkey that has no ability or power to help you?

    how many ministers and politicians are there that have no experience in the field they preside over?

    how many 'registration councils' are there that charge money and set rules to follow in order to "maintain a minimum level of professionalism/competence" but in the end are ineffectual and cumbersome?

    down with bureaucracy and legislating everything out of fear or knee-jerk reactions.
    • Oct 30 2012: I'm sorry but your reply was not to my question but to the one that TED created.
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        Oct 30 2012: if you mean the question written in bold type then my answer is no.

        but there is certainly very little humanity in bureaucracy which is what I was referring to.

        combine this heartless bureaucracy with tracking/spying technology and the future is looking very grim for those of us who have not lost our humanity (which includes human frailty and flaws).

        if someone has been the victim of crime, then it is easier to see that many laws are necessary. I'm not sure why a victim would have sympathy for the perpetrator that showed no sympathy for their victim regardless of the perpetrator's situation, background or lack of education.
  • Nov 6 2012: Right on Lejan.
    To some degree I believe this is true.
    More laws simply make more humans into criminals,so that they can be taken into the system and increase the profits of the business of prisons, which are traded on the Stock Exchange, and in order to remain solvent and grow in profits (don't forget good 'ole competition), they need a steady growth in their customer base. More criminals. Not less.

    Locking them up isn't easier per se, but it is profitable. That's why they're in the business and lying to the public about any goals of helping society. More laws have effectively increased the possibilities that those who believe they are far removed from the law, will wind up in prison. Good, supposed, law-abiding people. It's a trap they will not be able to avoid or escape. Unless and sometimes, they are able to abandon their own humanity to survive.

    So, because everyone is trying to survive, they will be forced into breaking a law for survival, or do something unethical or something most humans wouldn't ordinarily do, were it not for how tightly they are being squeezed, corralled, cornered and controlled.

    The Bible is just such a Pest and has been used for tyranny since its artificial inception and embedded placement into the human psyche. At least in most Western Un-Cultures.
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    Gail .

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    Oct 31 2012: You asked, "What happend to self-esteem and common sense?"

    My answer: Religion
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      Oct 31 2012: The 10 commandments are pretty commonsensical. The rest of the Bible pretty much too, honestly. The problem must be somewhere else.
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        Nov 1 2012: Neither the 10 commandments nor the Bible is a source of common sense. And those ideas which are do not need its context.
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        Nov 2 2012: Because it scares if I wasn't drunk for such a statement? In fact, I wasn't. :o)
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    Oct 30 2012: It is all a matter of culture. Laws reflect justice only when people are aware of what justice means. Otherwise even the most perfectly designed instutitions are nothing. The first outbreak of passion reduces them to dust if they dont express a corresponding degree of understanding.
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    Oct 30 2012: I think we have pushed the importance of human relationships to the back burner in recent times. The breakdown of the family, which is the basic unit where a child is first introduced to the society, is often underestimated; but it does have fatal consequences.
    It is easy to forget that systems, government, technology and education are only useful if they help in building a society of harmony, mutual respect and peace.

    Now, the introduction of laws, laws and more laws is a sort of knee-jerk response to the moral failure that is born of our misplaced priorities.

    Laws are good; but they would only provide temporary solutions. It is important for us to go back to the basics; to teach people from a young age the importance of good character.
  • Oct 30 2012: "I think an intelligent person can agree that there are no absolutes in life. So why is it that we cannot find a way to create one rule, call it the "Golden Rule" (pun intended), and fix the broken system?"

    Because people will cheat. The fact is that every year half a million people are murdered, even more are raped or injured. In addition to this modern societies are complex and only work if everyone contributes and everyone has not only rights but also responisbilities. Laws make it easier to remember our responsibilities without having to memorize all the details of the system. Finally laws are necessary for economics because every economic system is based on a few tenets that are not entirely obvious.

    "Do we really need "laws" to protect us from ourselves?"

    Yes, obviously children and people who are down on their luck or otherwise in no position to bargain need to be protected against predators.
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    Oct 30 2012: This research that states that free will is an illusion provides some interesting insight into why we punish people:

    "In addition, free will is a very useful concept when it comes to the justice system; we take responsibility for our criminal actions and accordingly, are eligible for personal punishment, which is deemed to be necessary for protecting society.

    Read more at:
    • Oct 30 2012: The free will discussion has come up on TED before, most people will be tricked by it to engage in some ridiculous metaphysical discussion, I will not because it is a non-issue: it does not matter whether you are rehabilitated because you made the choice to change your life or because you are really just a computer that when given the correct input will change its behavior in such a way that it will not commit crimes anymore, the difference is indistinguishable in the real world, in fact that's the reason the question of free will is so hard to answer. If some people are pre-programmed to become criminals that does not mean the rest of society just has to put up with that. If you don't believe in free will then stop seeing the justice system as blaming people for their actions and start seeing it as an institution that tries to provide people with input that tries to change their behavior, blaming someone in their face can be a powerful input that can change the output of the human computer.

      P.S. you could argue that if it is proven free will does not exist you can start using subliminal treatments to "reprogram" criminals instead of only trying to reprogram them through blaming them for their actions, but the thing is we already do that, that's what criminal psych wards and behavior therapy are for. The justice system is not the "eye for an eye" charicature people sometimes think it is, at least in most countries.
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        Oct 30 2012: "Pre-programmed to become criminals? How? That would be a deterministic view which is the philosophical argument against free will.
        You say that the question of free will is hard to answer, did you read the research?
        The article makes the claim that free will is "a belief" akin to the notion of vitalism, where is your research that argues in favor of free will. (I note that you have conveniently frame your reply to make it seem that evidence for the lack of free will is a "belief" as well.)

        Science has no intention, no agenda, and as such it does not blame. If evidence points to that fact that the basis for our justice system needs to be changed why would we prop up a failing system that continues to incarcerate increasingly high numbers of people"

        Cashmen says, "Perhaps the most obvious impact of this paradigm shift will be on our judicial system, in which the notions of free will and responsibility form an integral component. Currently, in order to be found guilty, a criminal must be considered responsible for his actions; otherwise, he can be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Cashmore disagrees with these rules, noting that psychiatric research is finding its way more and more into the courts and causing time-wasting debates. (For example, is alcoholism a disease? Are sex crimes an addiction?) “Where is the logic in debating an individual’s level of responsibility, when the reality is that none of us are biologically responsible for our actions?"

        " Seeing it as an institution that tries to provide people with input that tries to change their behavior" ignore science.

        In other words two wrong will not make a right.
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    Oct 30 2012: "Humans are the only animals to act spitefully or to mete out "justice", dishing out punishment to people seen to be behaving unfairly - even if it is not in the punisher's own best interests. This tendency has been hard to explain in evolutionary terms, because it has no obvious reproductive advantage and punishing unfairness can actually lead to the punisher being harmed."
    • Oct 30 2012: Punishment deters, shows that the group will stand together against bullies and establishes the dominance of the authorities, increasing the faith people place in them, which in turn decreases stress levels and increases productivity in the group. Humans are not the only animals to do this.