ISSUE-152

Laws should be flexible enough to take account of various circumstances, times, and places.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


Laws dictate what we can and cannot do and play a key role in maintaining the order of our modern society. Some people suggest that laws be flexible enough to take account of various circumstances, times, and places. While this proposal seems to be reasonable and it can lead to certain benefits to individuals, I cannot fully agree with this recommendation for two reasons. First, laws should be fair and just to all, and the flexibility of laws creates opportunities for someone who break the laws to evade the punishment. Second, from a practical point of view, it is very time-consuming and resource-exhausting for the legal system to determine each case and apply the flexible laws.

To begin with, I agree to certain extent that if laws can be flexible enough to take different situations into account, on individual level this is a commendable policy. The reason is that if laws are too rigid, individuals’ reasonable action may be punished hastily and unjustifiably. To understand why this is the case, we need to keep in mind that society today, as well as one’s action, is very complex. Hence, when one’s action is seemingly against the law there might be justifiable reasons behind it. For instance, blood for blood and an eye for an eye have been some of the simplest rules governing our social behavior. Thus, murder is considered one of the most serious crime and in many countries is punishable by death sentence. However, if a law simply stipulates that those who kill another person shall be executed, then it fails to take killing during self-defense into account. To be more specific, the laws here do not consider the motivation behind the action of killing. When one’s own life is threatened by the aggressor, his or her defensive action leading to the death of the aggressor should not be considered as a crime. In this scenario, the specificity of the action of killing should be taken into account. Indeed, in modern laws, self-defense is a valid reason for justifying killing another person.

However, if a law becomes too flexible there will be two serious issues that are detrimental to the society as a whole. The first problem is that an over-flexible law could create loopholes for those who really commit a crime to escape the punishment they deserve. This is because that one’s action, no matter how unlawful it may be, could always find certain excuses to shift the blame. If the case of justifiable killing mentioned above is a scenario where one is tested false positive for committing a crime, the issue being discussed here concern false negativity. That is, one should be punished by laws but with the laws being too flexible, their action remains unchallenged in court. For example, speeding should certainly be considered as an offense against traffic laws, but if such laws contain several extenuating clauses that can absolve speeder from getting punished, then the foreseeable outcome is that anyone speeding will try to justify their unlawful action by citing those clauses as their reason for speeding. The ultimate consequence would be that the traffic laws will be very hard to implement.

What is even worse is that when people’s perception on the laws changes, their behaviors will shift accordingly ...

Of course, some may argue against my reasoning above, citing for example that the speeders will eventually be punished because our legal system is capable of effectively evaluating the case of speeding, just like the fact that trials pertaining to murder and manslaughter are always heavily scrutinized. This counter-argument is certainly built upon some valid grounds, but it is somewhat over-simplistic and too idealistic. In other words, we may not have the resources to explore each and every case. In reality, it takes time and efforts for the legal system to get to the bottom of most cases; moreover, the truth of some cases is actually not known despite efforts to shed light on them. As a result, from a practical point of view our legal system would be challenged with tremendous amount of burden if we were required to evaluate all cases and then apply corresponding laws to them. Admittedly, for some serious cases such as murder, our legal system should indeed be extra cautious, but for a speeding case we should not over-spend the resources of our legal system on them. This is perhaps the reason why in reality speeding is often met with a ticket without much room for considerations.

To summarize, it should be acknowledged that in some cases laws should be flexible enough to fully investigate the nature of the crime before reaching a monumental decision, especially severe punishments. However, if all laws become flexile, there will be loopholes that people will take advantage of and commit a crime. What’s more, despite the theoretical possibility that our legal system could commit a vast amount of time and manpower to prevent those fraudsters, in reality doing so would require tremendous resources and is not socially economical. Given these considerations, I largely stand against the proposal that laws should be flexible enough.

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