The Limits of Rules

The purpose of rules is to prevent thinking. When a person is under a rule, it is not important how he thinks or feels about a matter; what matters is obedience.

That is why central planning and regulation have limited value or are positively destructive. Rules do the thinking for the actor. But if the action requires judgment, the actor is not allowed to exercise it. Therefore, rules are necessary to prevent people from doing evil, but they are economically and socially destructive when they rob people of the flexibility to make their own judgments.

In our rule based society, we are seeing the effects of excessive rules on family life, the economy, and, perhaps more than anywhere, education.

People who love power turn to rules to implement their will.


One Response

  1. So true – I see this dynamic express itself even among my own children. “Mom, can we make a rule for … ” or “Mom, we need a rule for … ” Perhaps it is an intuitive sense of their own need for help in not erring or sinning, but more often than not, it is intended to “implement their will” and exercise power over another (namely, a sibling).

    To point them to the heart of the matter is a delicate procedure, one that points them to their own responsibility.

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