Page:Yale Law Journal - Volume 27.pdf/31

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LAW AS AN EXPRESSION OF IDEALS

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ideals, they are simply a means to an end, or tools invented to effectuate their makers' ideals. Since no two communities have, or for that matter can have, the same ideals, no two can have the same standard of justice or the same yardstick to determine right from wrong; for as we have seen, such a yardstick is composed of its makers' ideals; and it necessarily follows that no two systems of law can have the same content. The question, therefore, of whether there are any features common to all rules of law, or any earmarks by which such rules may always be known, resolves itself into one of whether there are any features common to the form or to the purpose of all rules of law. If the standard of justice is subjective, it necessarily follows that laws are made. And if they are made, it requires no argument to show that they are made to effectuate their makers’ purpose. This would be true if the standard of justice were objective; but in that case, the force which dominates the making of law would be the same as the one which dominates the evolution of the race, and consequently the purpose of law would be the purpose of the Creator. It is true that laws are intended to effectuate their makers’ purpose, whether they are of divine origin, or made by a community or an individual; for the mind of a community is so far like the mind of an individual that the only force which can induce it to give the command necessary to put itself in motion is a desire to satisfy one of its needs; and as will appear more fully later, such a desire is the only force that can induce an individual to give the command necessary to put his muscles in motion.

In short, the standard of justice is subjective, and all laws are not only made, but are made to effectuate their makers’ ideals; that is, they are simply a means to an end.[1]

As has already appeared, all laws, in the final analysis, are commands; and it is obvious that they must assume that form if they are to effectuate their makers' ideals, for the only way in which that can be done is for the lawmakers to delimit just what those subject to the law shall do in a given situation. In other words, the only way in which a community can effectuate its ideals is by limiting individual freedom of action.

There are, therefore, three features common to all laws; they are rules that are made; they are made to effectuate their

  1. Von Ihering, Laws as a Means to an End (1913) liv.