I disagree that the law needs to be made simple and easily understandable.
If law isn't simple and is not easy to understand, than it must mean that mistakes are easily made in interpreting that law. If mistakes are easily made, and actually are made, than the fate of the people tried by a misinterpreted law are squandered and ruined. Even if the law is precise, as you argue later, what good is it if it cannot be understood? It would be like having a map that is very precise in it's making but very ambiguous in it's articulation of the location of gold, what good is it to a pirate? What good would it do for him to claim he has a very precise map, that is very difficult to understand, so difficult that he failed to find the gold?
You also argue later that law needs to be complex. I'm not sure how you meant that, do you mean that each law must be complex to cover all complexities of situations? Or do you mean law in general needs to be complex? I would agree with the latter. But law in its distinctive individual laws is not complex at all, atleast not after someone has broken the long words down for you and explained its complexity, making it complexity no more. But once again, I advert your attention to the fact that this complexity comes not from the structure of the law, nor it's application, but from the words that have been used to articulate the law. I would think that you believe that these words are used in order to help simplify things and abridge the written form of law as much as possible. To me the nature of the law is furtive in its undertaking, its history is a sham, used as a consternation for the people of the country who would be suppressed by those few who were said to be only ones with the ability for arcane knowledge. In ancient times, I believe, the law was written in such a way as to make sure that regular citizens would not understand it. For understanding is knowledge, and knowledge of the governments procedures is the one weakness of all governments that guard and manipulate this information from their citizens as much as possible. I am not satisfied, like most, with the belief that the majority of people can't be expected to understand the law because they are somehow stupid. If they are not stupid, then it is in everyones best interest to spend countless pages elucidating the law in order for everyone to understand, for how can someone be expected to not commit a crime that they knew not was a crime?
I believe we can "call it law" even if it takes a lawyer to understand it. Keeping the law complex mirrors the nature of the thing being treated by the law. Reality is complex and the ordering of it in terms of the law needs to remain complex.
Many would disagree with you. Its in our nature to simplify, group, categorize, and see patterns. If you had said that the nature of the law is complex, I would understand, but to say that KEEPING, as in we intentionally make the law complex is absurd. We live on the principle of making things simple. To the average Joe, the word UTILITARIANISM may never have crossed his path. It would be complex to him inthe context of a written word he had never seen. But tell him that it means the most happiness for the most people in any given situation. He will tell you a plethora of stories of how he has come in contact with such a concept. You broke it down for him and made it simple. Furthermore, it is one thing for law to be complex, but it is another for people to see it as complex. We are all involved with complexity. Complicated things that are difficult for us to understand, especially that being the case, is the reason why we should and do devise systems for teaching people how to come to understand complicated things much better and quicker.
Yet you say...
we shouldn't seek to simplify the law.
Sure we should, the whole point of law relies on the foundation of people understanding it. If you are right and I am wrong, then we should truly admit that law will work retroactively, law will be applied whether a person could know of it or not, and people all over the world will be convicted continually of crimes they knew not of. By the time they are sixty they will finally understand some of the most basic laws, since they were in jail for them, and then die. Only to have the process happen all over again. Then one day someone will finally say, "we have to make this thing called law more understandable, more involved on a positive not with the rest of society." Then I hope we will stop people from saying "we shouldn't seek to simplify the law."
You said it yourself later...
The law is a complex thing that can always be explained in simple terms
Now your talkin, that's exactly what I am talking about. Yes, it CAN always be explained in simple terms, that's my point, but guess what, it's rarely ever ACTUALLY explained in simple terms.
Is it good, then, that we must rely on lawyers to translate this complex justice into common knowldedge? The answer is the same as for doctors.
First off, justice is not complex in the minds of each person. Whether that is right or wrong is going off on a tangent, but all people have their own justice in their mind. That being said, for order to instill each society we need a common knowledge justice system that people understand. Otherwise, promulgation goes out the window. Since the point of promulgation isn't so that we can have an excuse against citizens when they say they didn't know of this or that law, and then we say "AHA! You could have gone to City Hall or here or there, and looked at this or that book and found that the law was there for you to read, all you had to do was go and look" NO, the point of promulgation is for people to be AWARE of the law. Obviously have some law books in a library or wherever else they keep them isn't working, so we have to do something else to make sure people are aware of the law, otherwise our system is malfunctioning from its very foundation.
We must make the language of the law very precise. To be most clear: This precision is what creates the possiiblity of justice. This precision is the dividing line between the common understanding and the perfection of our understanding of how to live together.
But the primary matter, the legal code itself, must remain consciously complex and precise, as well as sometimes ambiguous or incomplete.
I think there is an error in your correlation between complexity and precision. Are you of the belief that in order for something to be precise it must be complex? I agree that law is complex, but I won't agree that it is precise.
but I don't believe for a moment that you are stating things as they really are. It is to be argued that the law moves slowly and it is probably the case that more than 50 percent of Americans would vote against a national mass transit system. In other words, even knowing that it is safer to go mass transit, the people would vote against it.
Your assuming too much here. On what grounds do you base your postulation that 50percent of Americans would vote against a national mass transit system? When you say that it is to be argued that the law moves slowly, do you mean you disagree? I believe the majority of law moves very slowely, with a few exceptions, emphasis on <i>few</i>.
The people are happy with the current state of affairs - both in terms of standard of liviong, in terms of freedom, and in terms of keeping things from too much change. If it were the case, however, that the people were unhappy with a road and car system and preferred mass transit, I would argue that under the constitutional system of representation things would most defintely change.
People are miserable, especially in the states. After Sept.11th and all the security checks that are being done, cops barging into peoples houses with legal warrants disturbing their lives and there isn't anything they can do about it. With the installation of camera's to prevent crime. With the untouchable CIA doing what it wants, when it wants to do it. The crime rates are so high, people are doing whatever they want. The amount of drugs that is being imported illegally into the states is unimagineable. Prior to Sept.11th Bush's ratings were falling big time, there are lots of problems in the states. There always were. The standard of living only looks good, but majority of people would never say they are happy with it. Democracy works on the principle of the few with all and the many with nothing (slight exageration). Furthermore, very little of the majorities voices are being heard. Moreover, this freedom and standard of living you speak of comes not from this beautiful justice, political, and economic system; but from exploitation of other world markets, their people, their laws, their stock markets. For every amenity you have, there is someone working for nearly nothing ensuring you have that amenity. Lastly, could you edify me of this constitutional system of representation that I have not yet heard of, I think I would come to understand your points better that way. Maybe that's what I am missing.
In other words, to avoid discontent, or revolution, or civil war, the invention of representation has a very old lineage. Goes back before Aristotle spoke of it: forms of it shows up in anthropological studies. It is old because at some point the crown will be defeated by its unhappy subjects.
I'm still ignorant of this word 'representation' in the context of which you use it. But I do understand you meaning in the above quote. I don't believe it, in the present that is. I don't believe that the people actually scare and keep intact what the government does. Shouldn't be a surprise that we are in the information revolution. Information can make you do whatever you want, is there something you want to do but no one else wants you to do it? Simple, you use information to learn about these people to help you deceive and control them and make them ask you to do what you wanted to do. That is what is happening with democracy, it's no different than communism except that in communism they told you the truth of how things will be, in democracy they tell you one thing, but they make you do whatever they want you to do anyway.
Furthermore, even though we ought to avoid ambiguity, I disagree that there is no place for the ambiguous or the incomplete. This is where equity at the level of case-by-case analysis comes in handy. Or where experimentation in law is most noticeable. When the law is written infallibly, we get problems.
You call experimentation, law? What would you say if you were the one they were experimenting on and your life was at stake? Furthermore, I am very confused how you can speak of law being complex and PRECISE and now say that law is FALLIBLE? I think maybe if you just explain to me what you mean by the words complex, fallible, and precise, this conversation can actually go somewhere. Lastly, I have never heard of anything that has been written infallibly. You say we get problems when we do, can you give me an example of something that was written infallibly and then gave us problems?
Both things (ambiguity and complexity) are necessarily a part of ordering an ambiguous and complex society.
But you said that law needs to be precise, you can't have precision and ambiguity, unless you mean something different than from what I understand of the words. Furthermore, why are they a necessary part of ordering a society?
What's your take?