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Importance of Obeying Laws and
Even before 300 B.C, the importance of law and command in the society baffled many thinkers. This
was when Plato came up with the right republic and wrote about obligation and justice to the state.
Laws and commands are very important if a society is to achieve order, justice and security.
In the place where the laws do not exist, insecurity and chaos are the norm. What’s more, civilization
cannot occur in a world that is lawless (Hobbes 256). Law however is not absolute and it can be
amended or revised based on societal needs. This means that laws and commands to a large
extend depend on the societal values. It is also an indication that laws cannot be effective if the
society does not enforce and obey the laws.
The Nature of Law and Command
Law by definition means a set of rules that are prescribed by a given authority with an objective of
maintaining law, order and peace in the society. Law is also made up of different rules that are
applied in administration of justice (Hussain 1). Enforcement of laws and commands can also take
many forms including sanctions, penalties and other punishments forms depending on the nature of
Punitive norm of laws and commands also make them binding. However, Hobbes (254) states the
difference between moral and coercive authority. Moral authority refers to correlative duty to obesity
and coercive authority means having the right to coerce. This also indicates that laws and
commands do not mainly occur because of fear of sanctions or punishments but due to moral
There are also two types of laws including formal and informal laws. Cates and McIntosh (15)
believe that formal laws are deliberate and are documented to facilitate compliance, enforcement
and interpretation. Informal laws on the other hand just like natural and customary law exist based
on shared understanding of how people should behave under different situations.
To appreciate the importance of laws and commands, it is essential to understand their
classification. In the US, law is structured under five different categories including federal law,
constitutional law, civil law, criminal law and state law. Federal laws are also applied to the entire
country and are supreme laws of the land as stipulated by the American constitution.
Therefore, the law is applicable to all American citizens and residents as well as businesses based
and operated within the borders of the United States of America. State laws on the other hand are
confined to different matters within the state. However, within the state and federal level,
constitutional laws are applicable because each state in the US has a constitution that serves as
supreme law as long as it is consistent with Federal law (Melvin 6).
Civil law on the other hand is very useful in different circumstances especially those related to
domestic disputes such as divorce, breach of contract issues, accidents and ownership cases.
Finally, criminal law is quite similar to civil law based on the fact that they are both processed and
reviewed within the judicial arm of the government. However, in cases related to crime, criminal law
is applicable especially if crime is committed against the state.
As a result, individuals and businesses are ordered after prosecution to serve a jail term or pay a
fine when found guilty.
Functions of Laws and Commands
The main purpose of laws and commands is based on their ability to maintain peace and order in the
society. It is essential to note that societal order can be achieved only of the set laws and commands
focus on enhancing discipline (Cates and McIntosh 15). For instance, criminal laws often deter
individuals from creating disorder and chaos amongst them. Law protects every citizen from the
other as well as from threats by foreigners.
Those who attempt to create distress and social disorder are prosecuted through criminal law.
Secondly, laws and commands maintain stability. As mention earlier, laws are not absolute bit in
changes in law often occur gradually. Laws are additionally governed by rules and they rely on past
verdicts that accord them specific performance level unless they are overruled.
Similarly, laws create a balance between individual freedom and social order. If every person is
accorded unlimited freedom, the society will degenerate into chaos. On the other hand, giving social
order preference can easily infringe liberties and individual rights.
People have a major obligation to obey. There are different obligation types and it can be defined as
a moral tie through which a person is expected to do or avoid doing something. Therefore, it follows
that obeying laws and commands has a moral foundation. Obligation can also be grouped into two
including imperfect and perfect obligation.
Imperfect obligation is concerned with equity while perfect obligation binds a person to another in
order to refrain from or do something or to give out something as stated in a country’s constitution.
For example, constitution of the land needs obedience from all citizens. Individuals are subjected to
sanctions in the event of noncompliance. This is an indication of attracting punishment for failing to
obey laws and commands.
Secondly, following laws and commands is socially important. For example, obeying traffic signs and
rules is essential in preserving life and property. Legal rules also tend to impose a moral duty on
citizens. For example, a person is sanctioned by the legal system when he or she steals. The
purpose of criminal law in particular is to build an orderly society. Order in the society can be
achieved or maintained if individuals are permitted to anything they want without necessarily taking
into account the rights of other people in the community.
If all humans were to live in isolation from other people, there would be no reason to have criminal or
any law in place. As they say, no human being is an island, we live in a society that is very complex
and it needs close interaction with other people and on daily basis. In such a society as a result,
every person must understand what he or she can do or not do legally in their regular interaction and
contacts with other people.
Obeying laws and commands is additionally a very significant step in governing human activities and
in preserving societal values. In a complex society like in today’s age and era, there would be no
need of laws if everyone did the right thing and related with the other well. However, the society is
characterized with many individuals who want to steal the property of other people, violate right to
life, acquire liberty and property by force, cause fear and fraud and oppress the weak.
Crime on the other hand violates societal controls and as a result, criminal law is needed to deal with
the people who are determined to disrupt normal society functioning and to prevent misconduct.
Failing to obey the laws makes citizens lack redress in the event where they are wronged. For the
society to enjoy protection from the laws, members of the society must also be ready to sacrifice a
small portion of their freedom to engage in whatever they wish for at any given time. This is
particularly very important when a person’s activities interfere with the rights of other people.
Theories on Why Citizens Should Obey Laws and
There are three major theories in regards as to why it is imperative to obey laws. These include
utilitarianism argument, contact argument and principle of fairness theory.
Social Contract Argument
Thomas Hobbes introduced social contract as a solution to state of nature. He defined the state of
nature as a situation where people can comfortably live without being protected by the state and its
laws. Without laws and lack of obedience to the laws, people will live under constant fear, there will
be insecurity, they will fight and there will be no peace. Therefore, it is clear that to avoid state of
nature by Hobbes, human beings have to obey law based on the assumption that other people will
According to Thomas Hobbes, the means for enforcing social contract was through creation of a
state with given unconditional powers (Hobbes 249). The existence of such a state also allows
people to keep up with their normal operations in a secure and peaceful manner. Hobbes also
argues that hypothetical consent exists between the state and individual citizens. The relationship
between the state and an individual is as a result, similar to a contract.
The state is committed to offering security among other benefits and because citizens often enjoy
benefits from the state, they also have an obligation to comply with state laws.
Utilitarianism argument states the rightness or wrongness of a given action depends on the
wellbeing it produces. Citizens therefore have an inherent obligation to obey laws with regard to the
importance of obeying laws and commands of the land because they ensure their happiness and
wellbeing compared to other alternatives.
The wellbeing and happiness that citizen’s experience under a state as well as its laws is also great
than if the laws were not in existence at all. What’s more, with the fact that disobedience leads to
less utility overall highlights the need for citizens to obey laws and commands.
According to Edmundson (220), citizens attempt to maximize their utility by moving towards
happiness in general. As a result, availability of laws requires that citizens obey the laws to help
reduce pain and to maximize on the good. If a person fails to obey the law, other people in the
society can be affected negatively. This is also a factor that is more likely to endanger maintenance
of security and order across the state.
Failure to obey the laws can also be detrimental to the society’s welfare because the government is
forced to spend a lot of resources on prosecutions, training law enforcers, building jails, funding the
whole judicial system and on trials. The resources could have been used to reduce suffering and
maximize on happiness. Therefore, failure to obey laws and commands not only increases spending
but also leads to disutility to the society as a whole.
The Principle of Fairness Argument
According to the principle of fairness, citizens of a country have a duty to obey the state, its laws and
commands based on the fact that they offer specific benefits including security, order and public
services just because they live within the territories of the state. It is simply a question of fairness
and each citizen owes the other to carry out his or her own part to enjoy the benefits.
This also means that citizens of a state enjoy protection and are serviced by the laws of the state.
Therefore, they have a responsibility to obey state laws. It is a responsibility that can be likened to
payment for an offered service.
Role of Law in Business and Society
Law performs four different functions and each is of great importance to the society’s welfare as a
whole. First of all, laws defend the people from any form of evil. The law is designed to protect
residents and citizens of a country from the people who are out to cause harm to them without any
Secondly, the law enhances the common good. Laws bring perpetrators of various injustices to book
so that they can account for their actions. A community or a society of individuals with no will against
the other person are also concerned with pursuit of their self-interest and should at all times respect
This is because if every person decides to pursue personal interest, the situation will be worse
compared to if the case was vice versa. As a result, a society that is full of individuals who are self-
centered requires laws especially when it comes to distribution of private property that could be
exploited ordinarily by everybody thus resulting in tragedy of commons.
Thirdly, laws help in resolution of disputes over limited resources. Such situations need laws and
commands to be solved amicably. Finally, laws encourage and ensure good conduct amongst the
people. It was also argued in a classical era that laws were important because they enabled people
to act correctly and accordingly. Countries including the United Kingdom have many moral laws in
their legal system.
Laws were mainly used to prevent immoral behaviors amongst the people. However, the harm
principle was introduced in the 20th
century, under which, the law is not to punish people for their
immoral behaviors unless the conduct harms other people. It is also still quite debatable as to
whether the law encourages people to do right or wrong. Even so, with regard to the importance of
law, it is clear that it is essential in carrying out the first three roles outlined above.
There is also a consensus that many wealth and healthy nations are to a large extent dependent on
the level at which, the rule of law is applied, upheld and respected in the countries. Obeying laws
and commands is therefore not important to individuals only but also to businesses. Businesses
have to obey given laws and failure to do so can easily lead to negative consequences.
Without proper laws to act as guidelines that direct actions and behaviors of individuals, the society
could be uncountable. This makes it highly impossible to undertake business relations even in a
single country, let alone across the globe. Law foundation is based on the concept that the society
requires an organization and a good structure for it to thrive. Laws are also enacted to help preserve
hierarchy of authority as well as integrity of the economy, enhancing ethics and ensuring consistency
in individual and business relationships.
This also promotes equity and fairness, conflict resolution and it helps to safeguard liberties provided
by the constitution. To the society, laws and commands offer a path of behaviors that are socially
acceptable, encourage social interaction and permits good character. Perhaps, one of the benefits
that one enjoys for obeying laws and commands is ability to exercise individual rights as stated in
As far as businesses are concerned, laws protect them from ethical discrimination, crimination
conduct and ensures their success by guaranteeing documents and contracts that are binding
legally and are upheld at all times to promote business operations internationally and locally.
The Law and Work Environment
Obeying laws at place of work is very important because they direct daily operations and influence
hiring process. State and federal laws exist to regulate employment conditions and to protect
individuals rights thus, ensuring equal treatment and to protect employees from practices that are
discriminative based on gender, color, race and religion.
It is due to existence of law that many employees and employers sign employment contract at the
onset of employment. The contracts contain conditions and terms that all employees must obey in
the course of their employment to ensure a peaceful and secure working environment for all that are
In conclusion, social and economic development begins with the people. Respect for the rule of law
is consequently very important in any country. Many countries including Singapore is known to obey
rules, laws and commands hence, it has progressed much faster compared to other countries. Laws
and commands also define individual rights and provide obligations. Lack of respect for the law, set
rules and commands is no doubt insignificant.
It is also essential to note that in a place where there is no rule of law, there will be no public order,
and it shuts down investment opportunities. In this globalization era, a country with citizens that do
not respect the law is doomed to fail. In cases where the people highly regard laws and commands,
there is also order and where there is order, investors flock in, growing the economy and builds the
The rule of law is therefore, a very important factor in national development and peace. There is
need for everyone to improve his or her understanding and enhance respect for laws and
commands. This can be comfortably achieved through public education on the importance of
obeying the laws.
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Cates, Cynthia L., and Wayne V, Mcintosh. Law and the Web of Society. Washington, D.C.:
Georgetown University Press, 2001. Print
Edmundson, William. State of the Art: The Duty to Obey the Law,Md.: Lanham, Md.: Rowman &
Littlefield Publishers, 2004. Print.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
Hussain, A. General Principles and Commercial Law of Kenya. East African Publishers. 2003. Print.
Melvin, Sean. The Legal Environment of Business. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2011. Print.