A Question on Law... — PinoyExchange

A Question on Law...

i am actually writing something about this. i guess, i just wanna share it also with you...

Is it better to uphold the spirit of the law or the letter of the law?


  • is there a difference between the two?
  • I guess it depend on whether you are the plantiff or the defendent.
  • jet320
    jet320 instiller
    sometimes you enjoy the spirit without really understanding why.

    better follow the laws both on land and up high.

    and questions will be easily answered.
  • the spirit of the law is the "intent" of the law, while the letter of the law is its literal interpretation. the spirit of the law (for example) can be gleaned from legislative records.
  • yo_mon
    yo_mon 20 TIMES
    the letter of the law, for me, is more of the physical aspect of the law.
    the spirit of the law, on the other hand, weighs more than the letter of the law for it goes deeper into the context. it plunges deep in showing what the law wants to convey.
  • I recall a story about a man on a truck who was over speeding on a crowded avenue. A policeman saw him and began to race after him. The truck suddenly stopped in front of Jollibee and run as fast as he could into the bathroom. He had a bad stomach. The question now is would he be fined? The letter of the law would certainly steal a hefty amount from his average-sized pocket for violating simple traffic rules. But should we blame him for his basic human intuition to rush into the john?
    Another story would be the story of the two pastors. The first pastor asked for the wallet of the 2nd pastor. The 2nd pastor confusingly handed out his wallet. The 1st pastor took P500 from him and returned his wallet to him. The 2nd pastor exclaimed. “Hey! That’s stealing! That’s punishable by law!” The 2nd pastor replied, “No. Infact, I am just simply doing you a favor. I want to save you. Didn’t Jesus Christ say that it would be easier for a camel to enter the eye of needle to enter the eye of a needle rather than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God?”
    If you only think about the letter of the law alone, it will only have a constricted impact on you. Much of the learning is for you alone, on how the law will affect you if you put your life on the perspective. However, when one begins to think beyond the letter and thereby looking at it on a much wider perspective, one begins to drive a more clear focus. The letter is given a clearer spotlight. Comprehension and understanding is then easier. The spirit of the law will then provide.
    The Law is composed of a twofold side: both spirit and letter. We must take into consideration that these two sides are all existing and present in all laws. Thus, combining these two sides should therefore constitute the Rule of Law which should govern our land.
    The letter of the law is very objective and rational. It is written and encoded in the books. The choice of words is very important. It is mandated by the State to obey these laws. It is very literal. It is very specific and serves as a concrete guide for those who practice applying the law.
    The spirit of the law on the meantime talks on a different level. It covers a different dimension of the law, the “spiritual”. If the letter of the law explicitly states the law itself, the spirit of the law implicitly states it. It therefore provides the “intention” of the law. It is a metaphor and provides a meaning that goes beyond with what can be seen or heard.
    Ronald Reagan stated, "We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time for us to restore the basic human principle that each individual is accountable for his actions”. We are free, yes that is no question but we must also take into account that we live and belong in a society. We are in a society with a common purpose, to live a healthy life.
    But sometimes, strictly obeying the letter of the law, and the letter of the law ALONE can be dangerous.
    A society where laws have become the answer to all human problems, laws get completely confusing and many people begin to be concerned with nothing other than avoiding violating the law. Such a society is very likely to see ethics and morality slowly but surely moving away from its center. The state with its law can sometimes, CONTROL us. It is that when the state does gain widespread intrusive legal authority in the lives of the citizenry, the citizenry will begin to be guided not by its moral conscience and common sense but by the sole consideration of whether what people are doing is OK with the law-makers.
    Some corporations, for example, declare up front that they are not interested in business ethics -- which they take to vary from culture to culture -- but only in the law. (This probably is what accounts for the prominence of legal departments at most corporate headquarters.) Take for example, the case of Rockwell Center of the Lopez Group of Companies last July 2001. The company claims that it “received” all approvals of the Environmental Management Bureau to dispose dangerous toxic wastes / polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the area of Barangay San Joaquin, Pasig City. But what about human rights? The townsfolk never knew there were toxics in their environment. Questions like these go beyond the letter of the law. Rockwell did “obey” the law. But what about the people of San Joaquin?
    It all boils down to one truth. People began to lose their own identity. We have our own laws in our hearts. We have our conscience that guides our lives and our actions. We know if what we’re doing is right or wrong. But what concerns the society nowadays is whether their actions are actually right or wrong ACCORDING to the law. This is the culture that we should change, a culture that has been crawling into our systems when we started to allow laws to govern our lives.
    Sometimes, the letter of the law prevails. Sometimes, a judge would give out a court ruling that would go beyond the letter of the law. Sometimes they are in conflict. It is very difficult to give a definite answer for a question that has been debated for years and years. It is even as old as the Bible. This is very subjective to the interpretation of the interpreters. It does not always happen that the letter and spirit of the law goes hand in hand. The law itself speaks in many ways. Although the most ideal answer for this would be to impose judgment that would serve both letter and spirit, the preeminent way would be to serve an interpretation of the law based on the literal (letter) OR on the intention (spirit) of the law depending upon the circumstances of events, that would serve the society best.
    Sometimes, the letter of the law prevails. Sometimes, the spirit of the law wins through. Did not some one say, "that in the end, all things are political", but so too in the end, all things are spiritual.
  • how are we to ascend to the spirit of the law if not from the letter of the law itself? Therefore, it is not the case whether we should follow the spirit nor the letter of the law, but how we should have an equal understanding of the law. After all, everything lawful is based on one single principle - the naural law. Such that any law which is not founded on nature in ganeral, and human nature in particular, is not a law, but a subversion thereof.
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