The Environment’s Effect on the Third Basic Principle: Laws Must Be Equally Applied
In the last two articles, I tried to show the connection between the environment and two basic principles of law: laws must be publicized, and laws must be stable. In both articles, I reached the conclusion that the environment has important effects on these principles; nevertheless, these principles are still applicable to the laws of another planet regardless of the differences between the environments.
In this article, I will discuss the connection between the environment and a third basic principle of law: the laws must be applied equally. This principle is based on the understanding that the people are equal and should be treated equally. However, when we look back at the history of humankind, we can see in different civilizations that rules applicable to the people were different based on several factor such as gender, race, marital status, social status etc. We can see the examples of inequality both in the Code of Hammurabi and the Family Law of the ancient Roman Empire. People were believing that those rules were logical, necessary, and acceptable. However, in the course of the time, humanity embraced the fact that regardless of gender, race, marital or social status, income, job, or any other factor, people are equal and the laws must be equally applied to the people. The important point in this issue is that the changing environment has also facilitated the emanation of equality. The social realities have dramatically changed especially in the last 100 years, and in parallel with that, the general approach to life and social relations, too, have been subject to a great change. Accordingly, the prevalent understanding of social relations in today’s world is a result of an accumulated experiences of humanity. Likewise, the approach to the laws is also the result of this vast amount of experience.
When a colony is established on another planet, the first people living in that colony will have this background; however, the next generations will not have this background as they will have not lived on Earth. Although next generations can learn about the development of the human society on Earth from the records or from the first people on that planet, their grasp of this historical development and human experience is likely to be deficient. It would be deficient, because those people will have never seen the environment of Earth and the traces of the old civilizations. Nevertheless, this does not automatically mean that those people will not have the same values and virtues with the people of Earth. Of course, it is likely that they will think that all people are equal. However, there is still a slight chance that they may think otherwise. This is because the environment of the planet they live on may have unique features that may affect the social relations. For example, women and men may adapt to the conditions of that planet in different ways, and those conditions may favor one gender over the other. This situation may easily lead to a new form of social balance. Of course, people may still accept that people are equal regardless of their gender; however, they may wish to adjust the laws based on the changing social relations. And eventually, the principle that the laws must be applied equally may be eroded.
On the other hand, the living conditions on a colony may also enhance this principle. It is likely that the first people to be living in that colony will be staying in a relatively small place. At least, people will not have independent houses as they had on Earth. The fact that people are living in independent houses, and accordingly, have their private spaces may enhance the individualism on Earth. On the contrary, as people will be establishing their colony on a relatively small area and spending almost their entire day together with other people in the same place, people may develop a greater feeling of unity. And this feeling may enhance the equality between people. Accordingly, this situation may lead to a stricter implementation of the principle that the laws must be applied equally.
As can be seen from the two different factors that may affect the approach to this principle, the implementation of this principle may be very strict, or it may even be eroded. In short, it may be argued that this principle, compared to the first and second principles analyzed in the previous articles, is more likely to be affected by the conditions of the environment.
In the next article, based on the analysis of all these three principles, a conclusion will be provided.