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Chapter 1

SOCIOL 2309 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Positive Law, Cierva C.6, Code Of Law

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Ryan King

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Soc 2309
Law: Its Function and Purpose
Chapter 1
I. What is Law?
A. Much more than an aggregate of statutes that multiply promiscuously and then
sometimes are sloughed off
B. Law – written body of general rules of conduct applicable to all members of a
defined community, society, or culture, which emanate from a governing
authority and which are enforced by its agents by the imposition of penalties for
their violation
B.1. Appropriate for all modern systems of law
C. All groups of people living together in organized groups have at least some type
of rudimentary rules for governing conduct
II. The Six Primary Characteristics of Culture and Their Relationship to Law
A. Beliefs
A.1. Beliefs – ideas that we have about how the world operates and
what is true and fair
A.2. May be about phenomena that are tangible and observable and
things that are not
A.3. Beliefs about intangible, nonobservable phenomena such as
religious and philosophical beliefs relating to “ultimate” questions
A.4. Laws are often enacted to support our most deeply held beliefs,
and as beliefs change over time, so do the laws that support them
B. Values
B.1. Values – normative standards shared by the culture about what is
good and bad, correct and incorrect, moral and immoral, normal and
B.2. More general and abstract than specific beliefs
B.3. Shared values are important binding force; integrative mechanism
C. Norms
C.1. Norms – action component of a value or a specific patterning
social behavior in ways consistent with those values and beliefs
C.1.a. Mores = norms with serious moral connotations
C.1.b. Folkways = less serious norms, habits people conform to
C.2. Laws always reflect the core values and mores of a culture
C.3. All societies have behaviors they encourage and discourage
through use of informal rules
C.4. Positive law – laws that arise from the norms and customs of a
given culture
C.5. Natural law – hypothesized universal set of moral standards
C.6. Legal positivism
C.6.a. Theory of law that explains law by examining its cultural
context and studying the cultural sources of law as it is without
passing moral judgements
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Soc 2309
C.6.b. Distinction between law and morality
C.6.c. Law = coercive and authoritative power to command
compliance with it
C.7. Natural law believers
C.7.a. View law as standing above and placing limits on what is
permissible in positive law
C.7.b. If everything is relative and there are no absolute standards
for deciding among conflicting beliefs of right or wrong, all
cultural value systems are equally valid and anything goes
C.7.c. No objective way of determining truth and error
D. Symbols
D.1. Symbols – concrete physical signs that “stand for” and signify
abstractions that range from the mundane and specific to those that are
suffused with meaning and can evoke the deepest feelings
D.2. May transcend many cultures
D.3. Symbolic meanings involved inside an imposing courtroom;
symbol of justice in Greek goddess Themis
E. Technology
E.1. Technology – totality of the knowledge and techniques a people
employ to create the material of their sustenance and comfort
E.2. The more technologically advanced a society, the more complex
the relationships among its parts, and the more that society relies on law
to monitor those relationships
E.3. How technology affects law
E.3.a. Supplies technical innovations and refinements that change
ways in which criminal investigations are conducted and the law is
E.3.b. Technological advances in the media may change the
intellectual climate in which legal process is executed
E.3.c. New technology presents law with new conditions with
which it must wrestle
E.4. Many advances have potentially catastrophic risks attached to them
E.4.a. Risk society – society “increasingly preoccupied with the
future (and also with safety), which generates the notion of risk”
E.4.b. More aware that we can do something about them
F. Language
F.1.Language – the words used to explain ideas and concepts
F.2.Vast repository of information about culture
F.3.Part of the great biological leap that separates human species from other
F.4.Created abstractly and is added to or modified according to the needs of
each culture
F.5.Recorded and transmitted to future generation
F.5.a. Vehicle for cultural evolution
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