Laws: Just And Unjust, By Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr. believes there are two specific types of laws: just and unjust. Just laws are ones in which humans must obey in order to maintain the safety, equality, and freedom of the individual. He states that “one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.” Justly, these laws benefit society and are intended to align with the moral conscience of the human being. On the other side “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” as, according to St. Augustine, "an unjust law is no law at all.” Unjust laws are simply a moral mistake in the governmental system that require being broken, whether that be through civil disobedience or simple negotiation to prompt the change. The way in which one determines…show more content…
King emphasizes the fact that one must follow just laws to avoid anarchy and respect the rights of other human beings. However, he and others have a “moral responsibility” to fight against unjust laws for the benefit of society. He states that individual “who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law” as they are adjusting the basic intent of the law to realign with its moral law through the form of civil disobedience. It is important to note that this view is not ‘new’ or radical according to King. Legality is a very arbitrary term within a historical context as King points out that what the Nazi’s did was legal while what the “Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."” Therefore, civil disobedience and the breaking of legal law is justified and necessary to mold a better…show more content…
There are specific laws that are put in place to benefit the majority while, unintentionally, infringe upon the rights of the few. Are these laws then unjustified not because of their intent but because of their action? More specifically, can intent for a law overrides its actual ‘justness’? All of these answers are based on personal opinion rather a general moral ground making King’s ideals more accurate on a broad category rather than a very specific, controversial situation such as the Heinz dilemma. However, when thinking of basis on which King came to his conclusion, there is always a moral, more specifically, a Godly answer to the morality of law. Laws are guidelines on how one should civilly live and only laws in which break the moral civility humans need should be modified. These just laws always intend to help society even if there are specific justified circumstances in which they can be broken such as the Heinz dilemma. Therefore, King’s ideas on what makes a law just or unjust always maintain “human personality” and prevent the greed and power of humans from restricting the rights of
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