The Role of Legal Systems

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In his work “Liberty against the Law: Some Seventeenth-Century Controversies” published in 1996, Christopher Hill reassessed the outcome of the English Civil War and asked one introspective question: “Liberty for what, and for whom?” Some people may argue that law limits liberty for everyone due to the restrictions it imposes in today’s society. However, it should not be denied that law does protect freedom and liberty in certain circumstances. In fact, there exists a very complex relationship between law and liberty where each of them complements and limits the other. Liberty no longer exists if there are no legal systems. At the same time, legal systems that are not based on protecting citizens’ liberty are not serving for the true purpose of law. In his work “Elements of the Philosophy of Right” published in 1819, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel pointed out that liberty is the fundamental of law and law is a philosophical form of liberty. Law and liberty cannot exist without one another. In my opinion, the relationship between law and liberty can be classified into two categories: justified legal systems protect freedom while unjustified legal systems limit or even destroy freedom. Justified legal systems protect freedom by endowing people with basic human rights. Society has to progress based on standards and rules set by justified legal systems. Without these standards and rules, freedom will then not be ensured. Plato once said that “If a man is born divinely gifted that he could naturally apprehend the truth, he would have no need of laws to rule over him; but there is no such mind anyway or at least not much; therefore we must have law.” Thomas Hobbes also indicated in “Leviathan” that freedom should be based on national se... ... middle of paper ... ...and basic rights are not for the majority, there will always be a group of outlaws or social bandits who accelerate the revolutionary movements and lead people to overthrow tyranny and hierarchy set up by the current law enforcers. Last but not least, it is undeniable that justified legal systems do restrict liberty in some certain circumstances and it is necessary. Liberty does not imply that one can do everything he or she wants to do. Liberty, at the same time, does constrain human behaviors since liberty also means that one has the right to resist others from doing things that he or she does not want to suffer from. Hence, freedom is not always free and there will be no liberty if there is no minimum level of restrictions. In conclusion, liberty cannot exist without law while justified law must ensure liberty for everyone. Liberty and law complement each other.
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