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Seachmall

Why Do We Follow The Law?

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Seachmall

In Economics today we were talking about the Black Economy, where someone receives income and doesn't declare it and thus doesn't pay tax on it. As you can imagine it is illegal and yet is so very common, we've all done it and experienced other, supposedly, law abiding citizens do it, you make a couple of hundred quid a week giving maths grinds or whatever and 'forget' to tell the IRS/Revenue about it.

 

Then there is the infamous

before watching a purchased video (you rarely see it on pirated movies). We all accept that illegally downloading films is a crime and is against the law, yet we've all done it at one stage or another, some of us do it more often than that and then some of us may do it continually with computers dedicated to downloading films.

 

As the ad goes 'You wouldn't steal a movie' and most of us wouldn't, can you imagine walking into a video store, taking a DVD and walking back out without paying? Yet you'll sit at home and download a movie and month without paying, why?

 

Is it because its morally wrong to steal? Or because you won't get caught?

 

Looking back over the years its clear morality isn't some pre-defined set of guide-lines, especially not ones written by a fictional being. From the example given its clear our own morals sometimes clash with laws, or in some cases we ignore our morals altogether, and therefore when there is a minimal risk of punishment in following through with an action we just go for it. So, you have to ask yourself what other actions would we do if there was no law to catch the crooks, do we believe its bad to kill or do we really believe its bad to get caught for killing?

 

Does society really have morals or are we conditioned to behave morally without truly understanding why? The laws, or most of them, are there to benefit society as a whole but in our own universes we're all top-dog and accept our survival to be the only true law that must be followed, or do we?

 

So, why do we follow the law? Is it our morals or self-preservation?

 

 

Edit - Wrong Forum, can someone move this to D&D?

 

Edit 2 - Thanks Svip icon14.gif

Edited by Seachmall

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Svip

Government needs monopoly on violence, otherwise society won't work. The government needs to be authoritarian in some way. Rebelling against is needless, and just for people who feels "bullied" by the government.

 

While government is controlled by people, there is open for mistakes.

 

We follow the law for several reasons, for one it is the fear of getting caught, but turn it around, some break the law for pure risk of getting caught.

 

Most laws are based upon moral beliefs in their respective countries, such as laws against murder, molesting and whatnot, and there is a general consensus that is wrong.

 

Sometimes, we avoid breaking the law for the sole purpose that feel it is wrong, I suppose it is a bit of sympathy or empathy, or whatever.

 

Stealing, however, is a bit more sketchy. Most of us wouldn't steal most things for several reasons, for one, we might not need it, secondly, we know it is wrong, and thirdly, the person who owns it might find it missing.

 

It is especially the last part that stops us most of the time, the sympathy or empathy for whom we are violating. Which is essentially why people less concerned about downloading music, cause we are not stealing it, we are copying it. The music industry will tell us it is a direct lost sale, but pretty much all the CDs have been made and sold to stores, so someone has to buy the CDs, surely.

 

Another thing, is that people have a different view upon software than physical media. And with good reason, it is different. You cannot touch software, it's just there, but hardware you can relate to, as you can hold it.

 

But downloading music (and other media) illegally is not stealing, but that doesn't make it less illegal.

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ELGABORS

It varies to each person, it's something idividual and has to do with the Culture and the way one has grown up. Me for myself I like to always question everything Including why I would or wouldnt do something so I guess I was raised with pretty strong morals.

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GTA_XP

If you follow the law, you dont getting buttf*cked in your ass by some bikerguys in the jail.

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Rucke

I'm not following the law, not when I download movies, music and games mercie_blink.gif

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Seachmall
Government needs monopoly on violence, otherwise society won't work. The government needs to be authoritarian in some way. Rebelling against is needless, and just for people who feels "bullied" by the government.

 

While government is controlled by people, there is open for mistakes.

 

We follow the law for several reasons, for one it is the fear of getting caught, but turn it around, some break the law for pure risk of getting caught.

 

Most laws are based upon moral beliefs in their respective countries, such as laws against murder, molesting and whatnot, and there is a general consensus that is wrong.

 

Sometimes, we avoid breaking the law for the sole purpose that feel it is wrong, I suppose it is a bit of sympathy or empathy, or whatever.

 

Stealing, however, is a bit more sketchy. Most of us wouldn't steal most things for several reasons, for one, we might not need it, secondly, we know it is wrong, and thirdly, the person who owns it might find it missing.

 

It is especially the last part that stops us most of the time, the sympathy or empathy for whom we are violating. Which is essentially why people less concerned about downloading music, cause we are not stealing it, we are copying it. The music industry will tell us it is a direct lost sale, but pretty much all the CDs have been made and sold to stores, so someone has to buy the CDs, surely.

 

Another thing, is that people have a different view upon software than physical media. And with good reason, it is different. You cannot touch software, it's just there, but hardware you can relate to, as you can hold it.

 

But downloading music (and other media) illegally is not stealing, but that doesn't make it less illegal.

So, its a combination of both. We obey some laws because our 'moral compass' points that way anyway and we follow others so we don't get arrested. The ones that have a low punishment chance and that don't conflict with our morals are the ones we willingly break, which makes sense.

 

While it may be true to a certain extent that we are 'conditioned' to follow the law as we get older those views get more relaxed and we base our actions off of our own moral and risk assesments.

 

So, at the end of the day its all about self-preservation and self-benefit. We do what benefits us as long as it doesn't conflict with our moral views, which would end up being counter-productive anyway.

 

I'm not sure if thats what you meant, I kind of took your post and ran with it, reply if I'm way off base monocle.gif

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Cursed

I know what I am about to say is going to go with recent complaints that the quality of this section is going downhill with really short posts from people who have never been in the section of the law.

 

I have often wondered to myself, why should we follow the law? Morals do tend to point in the direction of what the law says, and I am not the type of person who would break the law.

 

What gives someone the authority to say "Right, everyone has to follow this set of rules or there will be consequences". Why do we have to follow the rules, when we were put on earth, we weren't put there to follow someone elses rules, we are our own people really.

 

If someone says you are sentanced to 6 months in prison, why should you have to, it's just something somebody has made up at some point in time. I guess the only thing stopping you is physical force, since you can't exactly say "No, I'm not going to prison" when you've got burly security guards surrounding you, it is a fight you cannot win.

 

Without the law, the world's society would collapse, there would be nothing to constain serial killers or rapists and looting would take over. We are best with the law, but there isn't particularly anything programmed into the world that makes it stand. Just other peoples decisions.

Edited by Cursed

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Abel.

 

I know what I am about to say is going to go with recent complaints that the quality of this section is going downhill with really short posts from people who have never been in the section of the law.

 

I have often wondered to myself, why should we follow the law? Morals do tend to point in the direction of what the law says, and I am not the type of person who would break the law.

 

What gives someone the authority to say "Right, everyone has to follow this set of rules or there will be consequences". Why do we have to follow the rules, when we were put on earth, we weren't put there to follow someone elses rules, we are our own people really.

 

If someone says you are sentanced to 6 months in prison, why should you have to, it's just something somebody has made up at some point in time. I guess the only thing stopping you is physical force, since you can't exactly say "No, I'm not going to prison" when you've got burly security guards surrounding you, it is a fight you cannot win.

 

Without the law, the world's society would collapse, there would be nothing to constain serial killers or rapists and looting would take over. We are best with the law, but there isn't particularly anything programmed into the world that makes it stand. Just other peoples decisions.

Anarchy would become world order if the law collapsed, in addition, it's human nature to make systematic errors, hence why some

aspects of the law are flawed. I hate piracy, however, many do it simply because they think it differs wildly from physically going to

a store and taking a film without purchasing it; they know that there is little to know chance of them getting caught downloading

pirated software in the comfort of their home. However, they do know that there is a significantly larger chance of prosecution if they steal

the film from Tescos.

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Eddie280

Well, it's a question of ethics essentially. Although we are told that paying our taxes is good and the right thing to do, people can, and do, call into question the justification behind these taxes because you could argue either 'What gives the state the authority to take this money?' or 'What makes doing this right and good?'

 

Taking the example you have offered, tax dodging, we can look at the reaasons behind it in different ways and depending on your own personal beliefs one could condone or condemn your actions. If someone avoids paying taxes to say, pay for an operation which will save their lives, then you could defend such actions by quoting Lenin's addage 'The end justifies the means. However, in reality is the evasion of taxes fundamentally any different from someone who evades the same taxes out of greed. An emotivist would say yes however the question is raised why? In this hypothetical scenario the crime is, in the eyes of the law, of the same magnitude and from a purely logical standpoint this interpretation of equal culpability carries more wieght than one which attaches less blame to the dying man based on an acknowledgement of this man's right to live. However this raises overarching questions about the propriety of the law and if a written law can/should be so inflexible and universally applied, regardless of circumstance.

 

This ties into your question of morality. The morals of the law and the lawmakers are apparently as questionable as those whom they govern which adds fuel to the question I posed at the beggining of my post: 'What gives the state the authority to take this money?' If their power is garunteed by the rule of law then what gives them power if the law is challenged and proved faulty? Now, I shall relate to the question lol tounge.gif , we vest our trust and capitulate to the law as it currently is because to challenge it on a truly profound level, raher than a mindless vindictive level, is to call into question, and disregard the fundamental foundations upon which modern civilisation is built. On closer inspection this foundation is decidedly shaky, depending on the co-operation of the masses which is why throughout history when the masses belive the system isn't working it is overthrown, without tacit support and approval no government can survive.

 

The thrust of my point is that we obey current law as it stands because it, for now, is appropriate and working. The laws which govern us are currently, by and large, close enough to the laws we would install ourselves if we had power so that we don't feel the need to disobey them and alter the situation en masse. We are, in affect, governed and our actions dictated by Kant's supreme categorical imperative. Whereby we follow laws because we are acting in a way which we ourselves would make universal law if we had the power. Laws we disobey out of principle are the ones we would do away with given the chance. This is obviously subjective to personal taste hence it panders to the majority.

 

So, in answer to your question, it is my belief that we obey laws not through conditioning but because they are based upon the fundamentals of human action and interaction. The breaking of law arises when a person or persons decides that this law is unjust or inconvenient to them at the time. Of course people may view certain relatively minor things differently however fundamentals tend not to change.

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Stefan.

I think we follow laws due to a mixture of our own beliefs and the fear of being caught. For example, one might think that it is acceptable to download music illegally on Limewire, however he/she does not due to the threat of being caught and prosecuted if caught in the act (despite being highly unlikely, it's still possible). Also, it depends on how someone was raised and how socialisation has affected them.

 

Honestly, I think a more reasonable question is "Why do people break laws?" Of course, there's isn't one solid reason as to why, but some reasons might include a lack of inner and external controls which could be the result of poor parenting and poor self-conditioning, in order to rebel in proving a point against the law in question, or simply to 'fit in' to a particular social group you might be part of. You could switch these all around and say that people follow laws due to a strong self-control, strong discipline, good parenting and because other people have done it.

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Vercetti21

Morals being the "unwritten laws" of society doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. Society's morals are reflected through the written laws. And it is ultimately the written laws which determine who has good morals and who doesn't.

 

Why do we follow the law? Because Mommy and Daddy told us stealing was wrong when we were little. We learned morals from our family, which is passed down by generations. So yes, society in general has a basic set of morals to follow. Which is why those with no morals - the majority of whom outcast themselves or are separated from their parents - are sentenced to prison, outlawed from society because they can't follow the written rules of society: the law.

 

So, if we follow our parents' morals, why don't we follow their religion, way of life, etc.? Because disobeying the morals of society has the greatest consequences out of all of those factors: prison. Most of us follow the law simply because it's morally good and the right thing to do, and nearly everyone else does it out of fear of being imprisoned.

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1066ant

Well I am odd really.

 

I despise any sort of crime involving vandalism or physical damage I see point in it at all.

Damaging property for the hell of it just doesn't work for me, I know when my taxes pay to build these things and people trash them I will be pissed off.

 

However I do download music in more dubious ways, I guess its because I can't see any damage.

And the people who make the music don't really loose much, most are either very rich or dead following my music taste.

 

 

Although recently I have cut down a hell of alot due to fear of being caught, thats what makes us follow laws.

 

The fear of punishment, without it law would not work at all.

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Struff Bunstridge
The fear of punishment, without it law would not work at all.

This is top and tail of the argument, for me.

 

In terms of illegally downloading music, which is basically an updated version of taping songs off the radio, it's becoming increasingly likely that offenders will be caught and punished, or so they would have you believe. Whether or not this is actually the case is, to an extent, immaterial; it's the threat that worries people.

 

It's the same kind of situation as not paying your TV licence here in the UK. Every household with a TV that is able to receive programmes, regardless of whether or not it actually does, must pay the BBC something like £120 per year for the privilege. However, I don't know anyone who's ever been caught and prosecuted for not paying, despite claims that they use roaming vans with some kind of Spidey sense to track down offenders.

 

So, we have a situation where, for a given value of "person", the likelihood of a person committing any crime is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being caught, ie, the more likely you are to caught, the less likely you are to try it. The only anomaly here is morality. There are those who would never illegally download music on principle, although they're unlikely to suffer any consequences, and one could argue that your average recording artist won't really feel the pinch as a direct result. There are, on the other hand, those who will continue to commit more serious crime, and in some cases serially offend, despite it being more3 likely to get caught.

 

In summary, I don't think I've said much of interest ( lol.gif ), but I think that laws are simply an evolution of morals. Morality existed before anyone thought to write some of it down and punish transgressors; crime and punishment is a fairly recent invention of man in evolutionary terms.

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DaSanAnThug

i do lots of illegan stuff and plan to do so in the future.

i dont think that i have actually downloaded music illegally.. more that 5 songs.

i recently downloaded 3 slipknot albums and payed for them all.

as a (hopefully) future musician i think that its kind of a principal(?) thing..

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Mike Tequeli
i do lots of illegan stuff and plan to do so in the future.

i dont think that i have actually downloaded music illegally.. more that 5 songs.

i recently downloaded 3 slipknot albums and payed for them all.

as a (hopefully) future musician i think that its kind of a principal(?) thing..

Well supporting Slipknot would be a crime in the eyes of some.

 

It's all a matter of interpretation, which is why we should stick to laws generally agreed upon, with as little government interference as possible. There is no legitimacy to the government or it's laws, they have no right to govern you, laws are a matter of necessity and should remain as such.

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kerouac.

Here's the way I see it.

 

Humans intellectual capacity is limited to the tangible world. What I mean is, we can only understand our universe from what we touch, see, smell, hear and taste. All abstract thinking; metaphors, art, philosophy, religion is filtered through our senses and reinterpreted in a tangible way (so that we may grasp and observe it).

 

Why is this relevant?

 

Well, because the tangible is all we know, we "learn" through comparison of tangible experiences. We understand the concept of the color "Black" only because we have also experience "White".

 

The Law (in my opinion) is a dividing point between a cumulation of tangible experiences, or at least it's origins lie there. For every action, there is a reaction; for humans it is usually an emotional reaction. The experiences that cause emotional trauma are deemed unpleasant, unwanted and in a civilized world unlawful. The experiences that generate a positive emotional reaction are (for the most part) considered socially acceptable. Keeping in mind that emotions ARE a very tangible experience and represent themselves physically (either blatantly or in a subtle fashion).

 

So is this crazy f*ck saying that anything that is deemed pleasant by an individual is lawful?

 

Of course not. Humans also have the concept of empathy, something we learn through experiencing unpleasant actions (whether directly or through observation) which we then apply to our neighbors. Most stable human beings will not go out and steal if they have been the victim of theft. This empathetic reaction we learn through our development and it is what we call Morality.

 

But then there issue of Moral Relativity. Where an action deemed inappropriate by one is deemed acceptable by another. This comes about through a matter of ways; through anything from different cultural norms to a difficult upbringing. It's interesting to note that most serial killers are the products of broken homes and parental abuse, this (to me) is a strong indicator that our strongest moral influence is our parents.

 

The parental influence has however. eroded with time. We now rely on institutions (religious, government, education) to indoctrinate us with our moral code. It makes sense when you think about it, Humans are social creatures and thrive under situations of higher population density. In order to live with each other we have to compromise some pleasant experiences so that we may benefit from a higher standard of living. We shed our feral morality for that of the "common good" as it is in our best interest to follow the rules that make society work rather than risk being alienated and isolated from the pack.

 

Thomas Hobbes put it best in his theory of the Social Contract that basically states we sacrifice our freedoms for security. The collective populous decides what freedoms can be compromised and what securities are essential so the law fluctuates with time.

 

So yes we follow the law for self preservation. It is considered unlawful to illegally download music because we are at the end of the day stealing from our own society by discouraging and hampering future artists.

 

But the question I want to pose is, if the law is not representative of the collective, is it the law at all? If an oligarchy, despot or mob is entitled to make the law, than a horrible shift in society occurs. The Law must represent the people, or it is not lawful at all (as it exists to benefit one party over another which is exactly contrary to the Law's base in empathy).

 

Now many people regard Anarchy as a state of a lack of order or law; this is untrue. A moral code is held by each individual, and human beings will always congregate to improve chances of survival. So long as humans are social, there will always be law and there will always be order. Humans can NOT live with another so long as there is a mutually understood agreement between parties that guarantees securities for sacrifice of freedoms. There have been Anarchic societies in the past (tribes for example) that still possess their own laws. The societies are much smaller in an Anarchistic world, but they allow individuals more ultimate freedom (but consequently less security as another tribe is always capable of raping and plundering yours).

 

Since most humans are afraid of risking their lives to live out their freedom, we now choose to live in nations and rely on institutions to hold the glue of society together.

 

So at the end of the day Morality is nothing more than Self Preservation. Nietzsche had the right idea.

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Saggy

I think that self-preservation is more important to people in most circumstances. There are certain things that the moral ramifications outweigh the legal circumstances in some peoplel's minds though.

 

We can use stealing as an example. Most people would agree that to steal something just because they wanted it is immoral, because it victimizes someone. At the same time, someone might reason that because they really want it, or perhaps it's food and they're starving, that it is justifiable. In both cases, if a person believes that the legal ramifications outweigh the posession of the item, they will probably act with self-preservation in mind. This dynamic is probably in much higher contrast with the starving and destitute. Their main concern is generally, "Which is better: Starving, or being arrested?" rather than thinking about the moral ramifications behind it.

 

However, then you can look at illegal drug use. Many people see it as a victimless crime, and others see it as something morally bankrupt; but time and time again there are people that will break the law to use them. If an addict believes that using the drugs is wrong morally because they shirk their responsibillities, and does it anyway. Most people aren't thinking about self-preservation in this instance, or morality.

 

 

The other types of scenarios are things that most cannot reason to be anything but against morality. Things like murder, rape, etc. Even in this instance, there are some people with different views on the morality of killing someone, but don't because of the legal side-effects, aka self-preservation.

 

So, to me I think self-preservation is a more powerful component in this. That's because what is "moral" is relative from one person to the other. However, what is considered to be a "risk" or something incongruent to self-preservation, is clear and apparent to most people in the same form. One person may think it's completely fine to steal a loaf of bread, another might think that it is wrong, but if they're both starving, they're more likely to steal it regardless of their morals.

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Wanted Assailant

Anything that'll support me; I'm going for my self needs. I'm selfish, so sue me. I wish it was legal to do anything, something of the anarchistic method, but I wouldn't want anything harmful methods done to me. Basically, I would want to be to be able to murder someone, or steal something without consequences, but I wouldn't want it done me. I guess this means I really empathy for anyone else, except me. I care less about the morals.

 

Meh.

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Stefan.
Anything that'll support me; I'm going for my self needs. I'm selfish, so sue me. I wish it was legal to do anything, something of the anarchistic method, but I wouldn't want anything harmful methods done to me. Basically, I would want to be to be able to murder someone, or steal something without consequences, but I wouldn't want it done me. I guess this means I really empathy for anyone else, except me. I care less about the morals.

 

Meh.

Yeah, but if we live in a society of anarchy, everyone is pretty much going to go apesh*t, and our morals will eventually become unimportant.

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Struff Bunstridge

That's not strictly true; there are anarchist communities all over the world. It just means there's no leader to any community, and that decisions are undertaken by popular consensus. Most anarchist communities are incredibly harmonious, and common sense prevails. It's pretty radical left-wing stuff though...

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Stefan.

Yeah, but consider that we're living in a time similar to that of I Am Legend, where our living conditions are akin to that of the stoneage people. If we have no leader, and no set rules, eventually our morals will be forgotten.

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Struff Bunstridge

I think there'd always be communities where common sense would prevail. Look up the band Crass and check out their policies, it's really interesting stuff. I guess the only problem is that such communities would always be subject to persecution from your more lawless type of citizen.

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Seachmall
Yeah, but consider that we're living in a time similar to that of I Am Legend, where our living conditions are akin to that of the stoneage people. If we have no leader, and no set rules, eventually our morals will be forgotten.

Our morals could be based off of natural instinct somewhat like animals. Some animals travel in packs and have a hierarchy with punishment for anyone who steps out of line. We are animals and so should society as we know it collapse we will fall back onto those basic morals, which ultimately allow for our own survival.

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hellfire500

criticize all you want, I like the philosophies of this man.

 

 

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Seachmall
criticize all you want, I like the philosophies of this man.

Wow, that guys an idiot.

 

Why don't countries rip off other countries? Well, they do. It happens all the time. Countries that don't do it don't do it because their economy relies on exports and if a country initiates an embargo that economy begins to fail.

 

Why do we have serial numbers on birth certificates? To prevent identity theft, hell, you don't even need a birth certificate. Your parents can refuse to sign one but that means you don't get a social security number, you don't get a bank account, you don't get a job.

 

If you are so worried about your birth cert get a new identity. You're allowed to have a second identity as long as you don't default on any loans or intend to use it for fraudulent purposes. You can call yourself anything you want, you can have cards and other proofs of identity that say that is your name. It may not be your legal name but that is just how the government refers to you, you don't have to use it in the real world. A birth cert is just a legal form of identification, you don't have to live by it but most people do because it practical.

 

It is however illegal to replicate any government issued documents.

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Stefan.

As far as I'm concerned, in Australia a birth certificate is a government issued document, therefore to replicate it or to get a second one is illegal.

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Seachmall

 

As far as I'm concerned, in Australia a birth certificate is a government issued document, therefore to replicate it or to get a second one is illegal.

It is a government document but you don't need to live by it. It states your name and other details but if Hellfire is paranoid he needn't use it. He can call himself John Doe, get a new ID, non government issued, and live off of that. You won't be able to legally get a social security number and thus you can't get a job but what the hell, atleast the government won't be trading his stocks.

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Struff Bunstridge

I don't think you can get a birth certificate with a second identity anywehere in the world; after all, the name you were born under can never be changed. I'm pretty sure things like driving licences can be obtained under a second identity. Also, it's perfectly legal to obtain copies or reprints of any legal documents that apply to you, surely?

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Seachmall
I don't think you can get a birth certificate with a second identity anywehere in the world; after all, the name you were born under can never be changed.

I never said anything about getting a second birth cert, I said you can live under any alias you want but it'd be impractical and difficult but if you're that paranoid go ahead.

I'm pretty sure things like driving licences can be obtained under a second identity.
I'm not sure about that, could be.
Also, it's perfectly legal to obtain copies or reprints of any legal documents that apply to you, surely?
Of course, but they will be in your name anyway and so can't be use with fraudulent intent.

 

Its perfectly legal to live under an alias as long as no government documents are replicated in the process. That is not to say you can't obtain legal documents by other means other than using a government issued birth cert.

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Struff Bunstridge
I don't think you can get a birth certificate with a second identity anywehere in the world; after all, the name you were born under can never be changed.

I never said anything about getting a second birth cert, I said you can live under any alias you want but it'd be impractical and difficult but if you're that paranoid go ahead.

Ah, yeah, that was directed more at Stefan. than you. I must start quoting people more.

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