The Law Should Promote Freedom, Not Restrain It

Alex the Younger
Extra Newsfeed
Published in
3 min readAug 23, 2018

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One of the greatest errors in human action is the misapplication of rules. There are many people in this world who believe all problems can be solved if only a rule were installed to prevent that problem. There is an all too common misconception that in order to have security, you must give up freedom. Here’s why this is an extremely dangerous idea:

The rule of law, in its most practical purpose, is a set of rules designed to maximize the freedom of everyone in the long run. Traffic law is designed to prevent narcissistic driving, and maximizes your chances of making it to work alive. You sacrifice one minute here, two minutes there, to prevent total carnage. Without such rules it becomes impossible to do anything. These are necessary rules, and although their enforcement may be debatable, their existence is unquestionable.

The law, over the centuries, has become reshaped to simply ban anything people fear or don’t like. Seeing as there is a never ending supply of things to dread, there is no limit to what we could prohibit, from the color purple to werewolves, (both of which have been banned in the past).

“The end of the law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. Freedom of men is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society… a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where that rule prescribes not: and not to be subject to the inconsistent, uncertain, arbitrary will of another man.”

— John Locke

With every new rule or law we should ask, will this rule allow me more freedom in the long run? Will a short-term sacrifice here allow me more freedom later? If I prohibit this one thing or action, will I prevent a future problem, or will I create two more problems in its place? Will the enforcement of such a rule create more problems than the rule sets out to solve?

If one were to religiously abide by these prerequisites for each new rule, and only enact said rule if it satisfies these prerequisites, you will likely find yourself establishing few new rules. Rules are not something to be wantonly decided — they can very easily extract the long-term freedom, and interchangeably, the long-term happiness of everyone underneath this rule.

To model this in a real-world example, consider the idea of banning guns.

If we banned guns, what could we expect to gain in the long run? It would reduce gun-related crime and accidents. It may reduce overall crime, (but no study can confirm or deny this). We would be certainly less able to defend ourselves and others. It could unintentionally create violent, black-market cartels, similar to drug cartels. It could also allow for governments to become more tyrannical.

The point of the matter is that each new rule should be taken into extreme consideration. These ideas are not only applicable to the rule of law but to the everyday rules of the workplace, our homes, and in our relationships.

In summary, and in short, this should be the litmus test of a new rule: will this rule give me more freedom, or less freedom?

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Alex the Younger
Extra Newsfeed

Satisfying my endless curiosity, and maybe yours too | Software Engineer | Praxis Alumni