How Is Morality Enforced?


Morality, or the set of principles that govern a person or community's sense of right and wrong, is enforced in a variety of ways. Many people object to the enforcement of morality, arguing that moral values are debatable and should be left to the judgment of an individual. However, all governments impose certain moral restrictions through the use of laws, policies and principles. Laws help regulate behavior and uphold certain policies. Principles are unstated rules or ideas that are backed by policies and laws. Enforcing morality can be complicated, depending on what type of moral values you are enforcing.

  • Examine the types of moral ideas that you want to enforce. All laws, from anti-murder laws to anti-jaywalking laws, enforce a moral idea and restrict an individual's behavior with regard to certain activities. Before enforcing morality, determine what types of morals you want to enforce.

  • Determine whether or not limiting a person's freedom is worth the cost of enforcing the moral. Because enforcing morals, in a legal, sense can entail restricting behavior, you should consider whether or not a person's personal freedom is at stake. For example, many individuals disagree with the moral principles of pornography, but, instead of legislating and making it illegal, they deem that this is not the type of moral that should be enforced, because it would limit a person's freedom. Certain morals may be encouraged but not enforced.

  • Instigate legislation or policies that enforce the behavior. Once you've develop moral ideas that you want to implement, you need to have a written document that makes these clear. Write a law, principle, mission statement or policy that affirms the moral that you want to enforce.

  • Set forth a punishment for those that do not abide by the moral idea. Enforcing morality becomes difficult without a punishment, because people may have little incentive to follow it.

  • Assign individuals the responsibility of enforcing the morality. Once you have a policy, you need individuals to make sure that it is carried out. For example, you may be enforcing a law in a particular county, in which you need police officers to ensure people follow the law. Or, you may be enforcing a moral idea in a school classroom, in which you need teachers to uphold the policy.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is important, in all moral issues, to realize that individuals may have very different moral ideas when it comes to certain issues. Whereas everyone might agree that murder is wrong, people may agree or disagree when it comes to less clear issues, such as sexuality.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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