The Environment’s Effect on the First Basic Principle: Laws Must Be Publicized
In my previous article, I argued that the environment on Earth shapes the law, and because of it, applying the laws that regulate our society today to a colony on Mars would not be efficient, as the environment of Mars is notably different than that of Earth. Here, “the environment” does not only mean the physical space surrounding us. The reality on Earth, colors, sounds, cultures, traditions, habits as well as plants, animals and all other visible or perceivable things are affecting our understanding of how laws should be, and accordingly, all these things are helping shape the laws. However, even though the environment plays a major role in this regard, we must analyze if it affects the basic principles of laws as much as it affects the laws. This analysis is of great importance, because it might be a good idea to let the people of Mars decide their own rules and laws based on the basic principles of law taught to them. Therefore, we must, firstly, determine if basic principles of law would be applicable to the life on other planets.
I will not go through an exhaustive list of basic principles. I will try to illustrate the connection between the environment and some basic principles of law. First principle: Laws should be publicized. It means that everybody should be able to access to laws and see what rules are enacted by the lawmakers. Why does society need this principle? Because, if people do not know the laws, then they cannot be expected to understand and comply with them. Now, we can ask: To what extent does the environment affect this principle? In order to answer this question, we can think about a very fundamental right: the right to own property. In today’s society, and for a long time since people decided to mark their places and started to protect it from other people, this right has been an essential element of human life. We have this right, or humans created this right at some point in the history, or in the course of time, because owning our place and having our privacy and above all staying alive in a secure place are among our very basic needs. Let’s say the earth was a lot bigger than this, and the population was a lot lower than now; would we still care so much about owning a property? It would be possible that although we still have the instinct to own some place for our lives, we would not consider it as a priority because we would own and use other places as we would like due the vast amount of available lands. Of course, this is just an assumption. But I try to show that we want to own a place because it is important. In short, we own places because we can and we need. Because owning a place to live is a very fundamental issue in human life, the laws govern the right to own a property in extensive detail and it is very important for people to be able to access to these laws. Otherwise, people’s right to own a property would be breached due to the lack of knowledge of the rules governing it.
Now, let’s think about a planet where people will not be able to own their own places. It might be a planet covered with only water, or the livable land might be so small that everybody needs to stay and live in a common area. In this kind of planet, there would not be any need to have certain laws to govern property rights, because, even though nobody would oppose to the idea of having a private property, it would be physically impossible. Nevertheless, somebody may try to designate a certain area in the common place and try to use that place only for himself. In this case, where there are no laws governing property rights, and where there is no common attempt to have a private property, how would such an action be treated under the existing laws of that planet? The fact that there are no specific laws governing property rights does not mean that people cannot own places. Accordingly, some people may attempt to do so. Then, in order to prevent such attempts, it must be established by the law of that planet that people cannot own property and such law must be accessible by the people.
With the two examples I illustrated above, I try to prove this argument: Regardless of whether a right or a legal concept has been an essential part of human life, or regardless of whether exercising such a right is possible on a planet, the status of these rights must be clearly declared to the people in a colony on another planet. In other words, the existent and non-existent rights should be declared to ensure that people know what they can do and cannot do. This situation also shows that the environment does not affect the first basic principle of law: laws should be publicized. Therefore, the idea that the laws of another planet may be created by the people establishing the colony there based on the basic principles of law might work well. However, this is just a single principle; accordingly, in order to reach a more comprehensive conclusion, we should consider other principles as well.
In the next articles, I will discuss the connection between the environment and two other basic principles of law.