To break a rule: Implications for state apparatus

What does it mean when one breaks a rule? What is the after effect of a broken rule? Is there damage done?

A rule is meaningful insofar as it is understandable; insofar as one can understand the meaning imbued upon it. So, a rule such as placing the symbol ‘.’ at the end of a sentence is meaningful insofar as one understands that it indicates a pause when uttering the sentence and also an ended clause.

What, however, if the rules of the game had changed. What if, the rule of the placement of the fullstop were formulated otherwise? Then, the past rule of the fullstop would not be applicable to its now current use and perhaps past usages are translated in understandable terms relating to its present use; much in the same way that we understood the Rosetta stone in terms of the languages we already knew (a side thought: how did Michael Ventris understand Linear B?).

Forget Wittgensteinian rules for a moment, and consider rules as ethical precepts.

That which is heard, is audible.  (My Ode to Mill)


If we break a rule, it shows that a rule can be broken.

A rule has social value, representing the integrity of the people who hold it; those who do not kill I deem are merciful to causing death. The bigger the rule transgressed, the harder the breach of integrity.

Thus: a minor transgression by someone of little social significance (say, a child), is less value than a major transgression by someone of large social significance (say, an agent of the state, or the state as agent).

If the state or agents of the state are not to obey a rule, particularly ones which they have construed themselves, they show little reason for subjects of the state to follow them. Consider, if a state goes against international law.

What if an agent of the state commits a transgression of their personal code, their professional ethic and common decency/virtue, what if they commit the ultimate transgression?

If an agent of the state commits a transgression of considerable harm, then our framework by which to judge transgressions is forever to change; why bother following their rules if they can’t follow them themselves?

To not follow a rule is said to ‘break’ a rule. It ‘breaks’ a rule in that it dirties it, it destroys a rule. What should an ideally moral person do?

I. If a rule is broken, then we are antinomian; the state of government changes to the state of nature and Hobbesian laws of nature

II. If a rule is broken, then we rebuild it, or make a better rule

A rule has been broken by the state. What are we to do? Live on in a broken society falling apart, eating itself; destroy it? abuse it? or rebuild?

What do you think?

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